Brussels, 15 December 2008
People can now reach emergency services from anywhere in the EU, simply by dialling 112, the single European emergency number. Now that 112 can be called from any phone in Bulgaria, it has achieved complete availability just before the Christmas period when thousands of people travel between EU Member States to visit family, hit the slopes or look for winter sun. It also crowns the combined efforts of the European Commission and EU Member States to make 112 fully available everywhere so that Europeans will always have a lifeline in the EU.
"112 working everywhere in the EU is a nice present to all Europeans, and the timing is perfect: during the holiday season of hectic travel people will spend a lot of time in other EU countries. From now on I expect 112 to be an essential travel companion for holiday makers in every corner of the EU," said Viviane Reding, the EU Telecoms Commissioner. “There is still work to be done by the EU Member States, but the first target of having a single emergency number has been achieved. I am very glad that our efforts to make sure Member States get the common emergency number in place have paid off, because now we can see how the Europe of results can help people in everyday life.”
The single European emergency number 112 is now fully available in Bulgaria – following an infringement procedure launched by the Commission in October 2007 (IP/07/1530). Since then, significant efforts have been undertaken by the Bulgarian authorities to catch up with other countries and implement 112. On 18 September 2008, the Commission decided to refer the case to the European Court of Justice, but delayed it by three months to allow Bulgaria to finalise its implementation plan (IP/08/1342). The Commission has verified, through expert missions, that 112, as well as caller location (which allows emergency services to locate people when they dial 112), is now fully available in Bulgaria. According to national authorities, a campaign to increase awareness of Bulgarians on 112 should start soon. All this could allow the Commission to close the infringement case against Bulgaria in early 2009.
In September 2008, the Commission also gave Romania three extra months to make sure caller location services were in place so that emergency services would be able to locate any person calling 112 from a mobile phone (IP/08/1342). At the end of November, Romanian authorities confirmed that caller location information is available to emergency services for all calls made from mobile phones. This information was looked into by Commission experts and could allow the Commission to close the infringement case against Romania in early 2009.
The European emergency number 112 was introduced in 1991 to complement national emergency numbers and make emergency services more accessible in all EU Member States. Since 1998, EU rules require Member States to ensure that all fixed and mobile phone users can call 112 free of charge. Since 2003, telecoms operators must provide caller location information to emergency services.
Since 2006, on the initiative of EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission has launched infringement proceedings for lack of caller location against 14 Member States, against Italy for the handling of 112 calls as well as against 2 other countries for the lack of availability of 112 (see annex).
In June 2008 the Commission launched a website (ec.europa.eu/112) dedicated to 112 providing information in all official EU languages to citizens who travel within the EU (IP/08/836). Areas for improvement still remain, such as for 112 centres to be able to communicate with more than one language or have interpretation services available. 17 EU countries reported they could handle calls in foreign EU languages (IP/08/836).
The Commission will update its website with further information from all EU Member States on the functioning of 112 on 11 February 2009, the 112 European Day, which the Commission is organising jointly with the European Parliament.
State of infringement proceedings concerning