Brussels, 18 September 2007
3 more EU Member States, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain have signed today the eCall Memorandum of Understanding initiated by the European Commission, while the Netherlands has announced its willingness to sign shortly. With their signature, they commit themselves to actively support the timely implementation of the pan-European in-vehicle emergency call system for road accidents that could save 2,500 lives annually when fully deployed in Europe. This brings to 12 the number of EU Member States that have committed themselves to eCall. Non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland have also signed.
"I welcome these additional signatures of the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain, which today join the European eCall initiative," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "This is an important contribution from these countries to making European roads safer. Against this background of growing momentum of the eCall initiative, the Commission will soon start negotiations with car manufacturers from Europe, Japan and Korea to equip all new cars in Europe with eCall by 2010. But let's make no mistake: important EU countries are still not responding to eCall. If this does not change quickly, it could endanger both Europe's competitiveness and – more important – the lives of European citizens. I therefore urge the remaining EU countries to join the eCall initiative in the months to come. Otherwise, intervention with an eCall Directive is an option that I will seriously take into consideration."
In November 2006 the Commission called on Member States that had not signed the eCall Memorandum by then (see IP/06/1720), to reinforce their efforts and to mobilise all stakeholders to make eCall a reality sooner rather than later. Industry was also asked to renew its commitment to eCall and to set 2010 as the target date for fitting eCall devices to all new cars in Europe.
Commissioner Reding is presenting today a new Commission Communication on the Intelligent Car to industry in Versailles/France. This Communication promotes the full scale deployment of eCall by supporting work on standardisation, and through field tests and public awareness campaigns (see IP/07/621 and IP/06/1271). An exhibition and demonstrations of intelligent cars also takes place until Thursday (see IP/07/1342).
eCall is an automatic emergency call system for road accidents, based on the single European emergency number 112 (see IP/05/1239). In the event of a serious accident anywhere in Europe, the cars equipped with e-Call automatically call the nearest emergency centre using 112. Basic information about the crash, including the exact location of the accident scene, is communicated via this call, even when no passenger is capable to communicate. The availability of the location information reduces rescue services' reaction time by 50% in rural and 40% in urban areas. Estimates suggest that this could save up to 2,500 lives in Europe each year, and lead to less severe injuries in 15% of all non-fatal cases.
The countries that had previously signed the eCall Memorandum of Understanding are: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden as well as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Today's announcement brings the total to 15 of which 12 in the EU.
Statements made today indicate that the Netherlands will be the next country
to sign up to the eCall initiative.
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