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IP/10/520

Brussels, 5 May 2010

Telecoms: Commission asks Court of Justice to fine Italy for not providing caller location information for 112 calls

The European Commission has decided to ask the EU Court of Justice to fine Italy for failing to respect a previous Court judgment (C-539/07) for not providing full caller location information for emergency services. Member States have an obligation to ensure that when a person dials Europe's single emergency number (112) from a mobile phone, details of his or her location are sent to the emergency services. The Commission's decision to refer Italy back to the Court follows two previous warnings from the Commission.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said "I regret that the Commission has had to ask the Court to impose financial sanctions on Italy, but I will not stand by and see citizens' lives put at risk due to a government's failure to act. It is extremely important for emergency services in Italy to be able to locate emergency callers – it is often a case of life and death. Italy has to respect its obligations to implement the 112 emergency call system like all other Member States."

Caller location information is essential to provide timely emergency assistance, especially for calls originating from mobile phones, when the caller may not be able to state his or her location e.g. when the caller has come from another Member State. On 15 January 2009, the EU Court of Justice ruled that Italy had failed to make this information available to authorities handling emergency calls to the single European emergency number 112 (C-539/07). This followed an infringement proceeding opened by the Commission in April 2006 (IP/06/464).

Following the Court's decision last year, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice on 14 May 2009 (IP/09/774) and a Reasoned Opinion on 20 November 2009 (IP/09/1784) asking Italy to take steps to fully implement caller location for 112. The Italian authorities had informed the Commission that they intended to put in place an emergency system for caller location information, which, however, did not proceed according to plans. This was not sufficient to comply with the Court's ruling.

Italy's failure to comply with its obligations to implement correctly the 112 emergency number system is a serious breach of EU law that endangers citizens' lives and well-being. For that reason the Commission decided to ask the Court of Justice of the European Union to impose on Italy a lump sum penalty based on the time elapsed since the first judgement of the Court and a daily penalty payment as long as the infringement persists. To calculate the level of fine proposed to the Court, the Commission takes into consideration the seriousness of the infringement, the period which has already elapsed since the previous Court judgement and the Member State's ability to pay.

Background

Under the EU's Universal Service Directive (Article 26), Member States have an obligation to guarantee the proper functioning of the single European emergency number 112. This includes making sure that caller location information is available to emergency authorities for all calls made to 112. The Commission has launched infringement proceedings against 14 Member States on 112 caller location since 2005, of which 13 are now closed. Apart from Italy, the EU Court of Justice also issued judgements against Lithuania and The Netherlands, which however have meanwhile complied with the Court's ruling allowing the Commission to close these cases (IP/09/1784, IP/09/1491).

Under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly Article 228 of the EC Treaty), the Commission may bring a case before the Court of Justice of the European Union when a Member State does not comply with a Court judgement, proposing the amount of lump sum and/or daily penalty payment the Commission would like the Court to impose on the Member State.

A detailed overview of telecoms infringement proceedings is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/implementation_enforcement/infringement/index_en.htm

More information on EU rules on 112:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/112/rules/index_en.htm


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