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Brussels, 25 May 2011
Statement by Vice-Presidents Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes on International Missing Children's Day
European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner said: "Missing children are not forgotten children. As with every year, the Commission is supporting International Day of Missing Children. This day shows that we care about all missing children and their loved ones."
European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "The pan-European hotline number 116 000 is a crucial tool for finding missing children. Today, 25th May, marks the deadline for EU Member States to implement new telecoms rules requiring them to 'make every effort to ensure that citizens have access to a service operating a hotline to report cases of missing children', and stipulating that 'the hotline shall be available on the number 116 000'".
"The European Commission has been closely involved in the efforts to support missing and exploited children. I have had the privilege to observe, experience, and admire the commitment of those working for this cause. I congratulate all organisations and individuals for their perseverance and valuable contributions,” Vice-President Reding said.
"Only 15 Member States have so far put in place the 116 000 hotline, which is clearly unacceptable. I want commitments from the other 12 Member States that they will respect their legal obligation to make every effort to put in place the 116 000 missing children hotline. I am also working closely with mobile phone operators on making the 116 000 missing children hotline more easily accessible," said Vice-President Kroes.
To mark International Missing Children Day, give a boost to the speedy and efficient implementation of the 116 000 hotline in all Member States, and encourage moves towards child-friendly justice, the Commission is also organising an expert conference “European Responses to Missing Children and the need for child-friendly justice.” The conference, organised together with the Hungarian Presidency and in co-operation with Missing Children Europe, will be held on 26 May in Brussels.
On 17 November 2010, the Commission adopted a report on the EU-wide emergency number for missing children (see IP/10/1513). In the report, "Dial 116 000: European hotline for missing children," the Commission renewed its call to Member States to implement the 116 000 hotline as a matter of priority. This was reiterated in the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child, adopted on 15 February 2011 (see IP/11/156). A more child-friendly justice system in Europe is a key objective under the EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child. EU legislation can make a real difference to children's lives.
State of implementation of the 116 000 in the Member States
The 116000 hotline is currently operational in 15 Member States: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
In United Kingdom the hotline is partially operational