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Brussels, 20 March 2007

116: Commission launches public consultation to identify Europe-wide freephone services

The Commission has launched today a public consultation to identify common Europe-wide telephone services of social value that could benefit from single European freephone numbers starting with 116. The consultation will run until 20 May 2007.

"Following in the footsteps of the European hotline number for missing children, it is now time to reflect on which other services might require such a number," said EU Telecom Commissioner Viviane Reding. "There are many other possibilities and I am now inviting all stakeholders to suggest which are the most important new services. I am already considering a single EU child helpline number to give children a caring ear to assist them with their problems."

Children's rights were one of the Commission's first priorities in its Communication “Towards an EU strategy on the Rights of the Child” (see IP/06/927). The Communication also announced that a 116 child helpline number and a 116 missing children hotline number would be reserved.

The public consultation launched today is the next step after the Commission's Decision of 15 February (see IP/07/188) requiring Member States to reserve the six-digit number range starting with 116 for services of social value in Europe. This Decision also reserved the first such number, 116000, for hotlines for missing children.

The consultation seeks to identify other services that may also benefit from a single Europe-wide number. These services will help citizens in difficulty or contribute to their well-being or safety. Once the Commission has decided which numbers should be reserved for which services, it will be for Member States to assign the numbers to individual organisations within their territory.

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