Brussels, 20 November 2009
112: European Commission sends Italy final warning and closes legal action against Lithuania
The European Commission today stepped up legal action against Italy because Italian emergency services still do not receive information about the location of people who dial 112 – Europe's single emergency number – from mobile phones despite a previous judgement of the European Court of Justice. The Commission has decided to send Italy a reasoned opinion, which is the final stage before the case is referred again to the European Court of Justice, who would then have to decide to impose financial penalties on Italy for lack of respect of a previous judgement. At the same time, the Commission also ended legal action taken against Lithuania as caller location details are now available for 112 calls from mobile phones.
"Knowing where people that need urgent help are is the key to the effective functioning of 112, Europe's single emergency number, in particular in case of calls from mobile phones. I therefore urge Italy to implement all elements of this vital service and comply with the European Court of Justice's ruling of January this year. Italy must respect this important EU requirement which has been binding for the past six years," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding . "Our work to ensure the correct implementation of 112 has given good results in other Member States, and I welcome that Lithuanian emergency services can now receive information about the location of all callers dialling 112, which means that the Commission can close the infringement proceeding."
Italy is being sent a reasoned opinion
On 15 January 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Italy had failed to make 112 caller location information available to authorities handling emergencies for all calls (case ). In particular, caller location information is not yet available to emergency services throughout Italy for calls made to 112 from mobile phones. This follows an infringement proceeding opened by the Commission in April 2006 ( ).
In response to the letter of formal notice following the ECJ judgement ( ), the Italian authorities planned to implement a temporary emergency system that would enable caller location information to be available in a relatively short time. However such a system would finally only become operational by September 2010. As this delay does not meet the terms of the ECJ judgement, the Commission has now decided to send a reasoned opinion to Italy under Article 228 of the EC Treaty. If the Italian authorities still do not comply, the Commission will apply to the ECJ asking it to impose financial penalties on Italy.
Caller location information for 112 emergency calls available in Lithuania
The Commission today ended legal action against Lithuania, now that emergency services in Lithuania can find out the approximate location of callers who dial the single European emergency number 112, even when they are unable to say where they are. Following a case launched by the Commission in 2006 ( ), the ECJ ruled on 11 September 2008 that Lithuania had failed to ensure that authorities handling emergencies are provided with caller location information for all callers to 112 (case ). The Lithuanian Ministry of Internal Affairs indicated that caller location information for mobile 112 calls across the country would be made available to emergency services from 16 September 2009. The Commission has received evidence that this is now available, so the case has been closed.
112 was introduced in 1991 to provide a single emergency number in all EU countries, in addition to national emergency numbers. 112 now works 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 emergency services with caller location information. The EU provisions on 112 are being strengthened as part of the reform of the EU telecoms rules, in particular as regarding quicker provision of caller location information to the emergency authorities, awareness raising (specially for travellers), extending access obligations to certain types of internet telephony (VoIP) providers and access for disabled users.
The Commission has launched infringement proceedings against 14 Member States on caller location since 2005, of which 13 are now closed. Infringements proceedings have additionally been launched and closed against two Member States (Poland and Bulgaria) concerning the availability of 112, and one infringement proceeding is still ongoing, also against Italy, concerning the handling of 112 calls.
Under Article 228 of the EC Treaty the Commission can ask the ECJ to impose fines in the form of a daily penalty payment and a lump sum. In calculating the fines the Commission takes into consideration the seriousness of the infringement, the period which has already elapsed since the previous Court judgement and the situation of the Member State concerned. The minimum lump sum that might be imposed on Italy is € 9.92 million. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Commission will no longer be required to issue a reasoned opinion before referring Article 228 cases to the Court of Justice.
Detailed overview of telecoms infringement proceeding:
Overview of telecoms infringement proceedings related to 112: