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Brussels, 20 December 2006

Now on track: the single EU hotline number for missing children

Today, a committee of Member State representatives, at an extraordinary meeting convened by the Commission, endorsed the Commission's initiative to reserve throughout the EU common freephone numbers for services of social value. This means in particular that the 116000 number will be made available for hotlines for missing children. Member States are asked to make this major initiative for children's rights a reality as soon as possible.

"Having a single number for reporting missing children represents a concrete example of how the EU has made children's rights one of its priorities," said EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding. "I therefore call upon all EU Member States to be very active in implementing the '116 initiative'. The safety of our children does not tolerate delay".

The Commission's '116 initiative' allows a single number to be reserved for the same service across Europe. Services provided through 116 freephone numbers will benefit citizens by helping those in difficulty, or by contributing to their well-being or safety.

Hotline telephone numbers for parents to report missing children already exist in several EU countries, but they currently use different telephone numbers in different countries. Having a common hotline number, 116000, will greatly help parents if they lose their child while travelling or on holiday in another European country.

The Commission's draft Decision to reserve numbers beginning with 116 for harmonised services of social value in Europe has today been endorsed by the Communications Committee, an expert group of Member States' representatives. Approval by this committee paves the way for the Commission to adopt this Decision, which will be binding on Member States, in early 2007. On 11 December 2006, Commissioner Reding had at the Telecom Council called upon all Ministers to support urgent progress on this Commission proposal (see MEMO/06/476).

A public call will be launched early next year to identify other services that may benefit from 116 numbers.

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