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Saving more lives on Europe's roads: mobile phone operators sign up for eCall roll-out

Commission Européenne - IP/09/1290   09/09/2009

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IP/09/1290

Brussels, 9 September 2009

Saving more lives on Europe's roads: mobile phone operators sign up for eCall roll-out

Today, eCall, Europe's in-car automatic emergency call system, received the full backing of Europe's mobile phone industry. Representatives of the industry's GSM Association underlined their commitment to this life-saving technology by signing the EU's Memorandum of Understanding to implement eCall across Europe. eCall automatically dials 112, Europe's single emergency number , when a car has a serious accident and sends its location to the nearest emergency service – even when passengers do not know or cannot say where they are. Rolling out eCall requires close cooperation between public authorities, car companies and mobile phone operators and could save up to 2,500 lives each year in the EU when fully deployed and reduce the severity of injuries by 10 to 15%.

"Last month, the European Commission called on Europe's governments and telecoms and automotive industry to do more to put eCall on the road. I congratulate the mobile phone industry for answering so promptly. By backing Europe's in-car emergency call system, they have shown their social responsibility and openness to innovative applications of communications technology in daily life," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner. "However, the roll-out of the pan-European eCall needs everyone's co-operation. Today mobile phone operators have shown their commitment to eCall, joining car industry and the majority of EU countries. Six Member States have still not signed the eCall Memorandum of Understanding – Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and the United Kingdom. They should now take their foot off the brake and speed up the introduction of a system that can save lives. Otherwise, the Commission will need to propose legislation next year."

During a ceremony hosted today by Commissioner Reding, Martin Whitehead, Director of the GSM Association Europe, signed the eCall Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the mobile communications industry .

Spanning 219 countries, the GSM Association unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators and more than 200 companies, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations.

To fully deploy eCall, Europe's car and telecoms industries and national administrations in all EU countries, must ensure that their emergency services, especially call centres, are equipped to handle eCalls. Although the technology is ready and common pan-EU standards have been agreed by industry and emergency services, Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and the UK are still not ready to commit, mainly for cost concerns.

15 EU countries (Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden) as well as 3 EEA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) have agreed common arrangements for implementing eCall. Another 6 EU countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romania and Poland) support eCall and are willing to sign the agreement. The European Parliament is also a strong supporter of the roll out of eCall in cars across Europe.

Background

In August, the Commission called on EU countries and Europe's car and telecoms industry to do more for the roll-out of eCall in Europe (IP/09/1245 ). The Commission outlined a strategy for speeding up the introduction of eCall in all new vehicles (of all brands and countries of origin) across Europe. The technology would be open to all, and would use the single European emergency number 112 , which is today available across the EU ( IP/08/1968 ).

The Commission has funded eCall projects that make sure the technology works across borders (E-MERGE and GST-Rescue ) and has further supported work on eCall through industry cooperation via the eSafety Initiative.

eCall is one of the priorities of the Intelligent Car Initiative and the Intelligent Transport Systems Action Plan promoting the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to achieve smarter, safer and cleaner road transport ( IP/06/191 ).

In the last two years, the EU provided around €160 million for research into ICT for transport.

Road accidents cost the EU economy more than €160 billion per year. Equipping all 230 million cars in the EU with eCall could save €26 billion annually. The eCall system will also make it easier to manage road traffic congestion and to install services like satellite navigation in cars.

The EU's Memorandum of Understanding and list of signatories are available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/esafety/doc/esafety_library/mou/invehicle_ecall_mou.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/esafety/doc/esafety_library/mou/list_of_signatures.pdf

The Commission's strategy for an EU eCall system and the agreement signed by 15 Member States and more than 80 organisations are available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/esafety/ecall/index_en.htm

More information on eCall is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/news.cfm?item_type=library&item_subtype=audiovisual&tpa_id=144

Today's press release from the GSM Association Europe is available at:

http://www.gsmworld.com/newsroom/index.htm


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