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Background

Third-party tools, services or platforms are:

  • web components installed on Commission infrastructure, but not developed in-house (e.g. charts, maps, social media feeds, etc.)
  • commercial services that are beyond the control of the Commission (e.g. Google Analytics, embedded YouTube videos, embedded web fonts such as Google Fonts, embedded maps, surveys, content delivery networks, etc.)
  • platforms developed by contractors for collaborative activities (e.g. virtual trade shows, online interactive events, etc.).

Using third-party tools, services or platforms entails certain risks, such as:

  • privacy and data protection: third party products often use permanent cookies and other methods of data collection
  • business continuity: the European Commission has no influence over maintenance
  • legal uncertainty: terms of use can be changed without notice
  • dependency: webmasters have no control over these tools
  • limited accuracy assurance: providers can change data collection without notice, and use differing methods to collect data
  • security: undesired redirections or malware
  • endorsement: any use serves as implicit endorsement by the European institutions, which is a breach of competition rules.

Rules

DGs and executive agencies must:

  1. Use DG COMM’s Europa webtools by default: in-house maintained solutions (often based on verified and approved third-party tools)
  2. If a corporate solution does not meet your needs, look for online services that are whitelisted. Check the list in the Cookie Consent Kit for videos and other iframe content page
  3. If none of the whitelisted services meets your needs, send a duly justified request for whitelisting of a third-party service to DG COMM.

Use Europa Webtools by default 

To avoid the risks related to the use of third-party tools and services, DG Communication offers in-house maintained corporate solutions, often based on verified and approved third-party tools, which can be integrated into any CMS technology.

Europa Webtools are based on the following principles:

  • offer corporate out-of-the-box features 
  • in line with corporate standards in terms of styling, accessibility, usability and cookie rules
  • straightforward to implement and with dedicated corporate support
  • in case of any 3rd-party dependencies, these are centrally maintained 
  • standard functionality and labels available in 24 languages

Requesting an improvement to Europa Webtools

Requests for improvements to a tool or service that is part of the Europa Webtools offer can be sent by email to DG COMM. After assessment, your Europa content coordinator or the corresponding product owner will contact you.

See https://europa.eu/webtools (EU login required) for a full overview and implementation details.

Procedure to request approval for third-party products

In exceptional cases, when a duly justified business need cannot be fulfilled by corporate solutions, a third-party product can be requested. There are two scenarios for third-party standalone products (e.g. IT software), that cannot be embedded on a page:

Either:

  • the third-party service CAN provide a separate instance of the tool/service/platform, in which case you should ensure you comply with the Europa Web Guide by:
    • implementing the corporate visual identity
    • ensuring that personal data processing complies with the rules
    • following the accessibility guidelines
    • adding a case-specific information systems security disclaimer that you remain responsible for the related risks

 Or:

  • the third-party service CANNOT provide a separate instance of the tool/service/platform, in which case DG COMM will ask you to link to the third-party website and ensure that only a limited amount of information is published on it. In addition, instead of simply referring to the main Privacy statement for Commission websites, you must prepare a case-specific privacy statement, in cooperation with your DG's Data Protection Coordinator (DPC).

Third party products which require IT investment

If the use of a new IT tool/service/platform requires IT investment, you must initiate an IT Project and follow the IT Governance procedure:

  1. Contact your DGIT Portfolio Manager (PM) who will evaluate the scope of the IT Investment Assessment Process for your project
  2. If concerned, prepare the relevant PM² documents (PIR, Business Case, Project Charter, Security Plan) to be saved in GovIS2
  3. Once the documents are saved in GovIS2, IT Investment Assessment Process can start
  4. In some cases, the Information Technology and Cybersecurity Board (ITCB) will also assess the IT project (the IT PM will know if this is necessary).


For more information about the IT Investment Assessment Process, please contact EC-IT-GOVERNANCE@ec.europa.eu.


Third party products which require a new URL

If the third-party tool, service or platform requires the use of a separate, publicly accessible instance that has not received approval, you must follow the request procedure for revamps and new sites.

Data protection

Any personal data that is processed as part of any task relating to the development of the European Commission's web presence must be done so in compliance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018.

See this guide's page about data protection for more information.

Europa webtools Training

Individual and group coaching sessions tailored to the user's needs are provided on demand.

Send an email to COMM Europa Management in order to request a session and discuss a meeting schedule.

Contact and support

Need further assistance on this topic? Please contact the Europa Domain Management team (EU Login required).

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The Europa Web Guide is the official rulebook for the European Commission's web presence, covering editorial, legal, technical, visual and contractual aspects.
All European Commission web sites must observe the rules and guidelines it contains.
Web practitioners are invited to observe its contents and keep abreast of updates. More information about the web guide.