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Brussels, 24 May 2013
Statement by Vice-Presidents Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes on International Missing Children's Day
Ahead of International Missing Children’s Day (25 May), European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner said:
"As every year, the European Commission is supporting International Missing Children Day to make sure we remember children who have gone missing, today and on every other day of the year. As families and children travel more and more within the European Union, we need phone numbers that are known by everyone and are the same whether you are calling from home or from holiday, from Finland to Greece."
She added: "The European Commission made €3.6 million funding available in 2012 and €5.1 million in 2013 for the proper set-up and functioning of 116 000 hotlines and child abduction alert mechanisms. With this funding boost, progress has been accelerated and 23 Member States now have an operational 116 000 hotline, with all but one of the remaining countries soon expected to launch the hotlines as a result of EU funding.
I call on Finland – the only Member State yet to set up a hotline – to follow the example set by all the other EU countries and to swiftly make the missing children hotline operational. This hotline can help to save lives – but it can only work fully if all Member States do their job.”
Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda added:
"Every parent should know who they can call if their child goes missing. The 116 000 hotline is a great step forward, but now national authorities need to turn their legal obligation into practical action – and ensure more people are aware of this vital service. We already have some good examples, but it is very important that telecom operators intensify their efforts too."
To mark International Missing Children Day, give a boost to the speedy and efficient implementation of the 116 000 hotline, and to promote quality and future-proofing of the hotlines in all Member States, the Commission is organising the third Conference on "Missing Children: innovative approaches and challenges to finding missing children". The conference, organised in cooperation with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Missing Children Europe, will be held on 4 June 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).
In response to the European Commission's funding offer for missing children hotlines, €4.4 million has now been allocated to organisations in 17 Member States (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and the UK). Three new hotlines will be launched in Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden – and the Commission will closely follow their actual implementation. Meanwhile, funding for the other 14 will be used to improve the quality of the existing service. This means that thanks to determined Commission action all but one of the EU's 27 Member States now have or will soon have an operational 116 hotline – a momentous achievement which is helping parents and local authorities across Europe react quickly and save lives.
A separate call for proposals will be launched in 2013 for the €600,000 available for child abduction alert mechanisms. Child abduction alert mechanisms are crucial when a child's life is deemed to be at risk.
In 2011, the Commission also forged a strong coalition with telecommunications operators (via a GSM Association) to increase and streamline publicity for 116 000 services in 14 Member States. 2012/13 actions included web publicity, text messages and informing subscribers through their bills. For example, the mobile operators Proximus and Base already installed 116 000 as default numbers in their SIM toolkits. Many Europe-wide operators, such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telenor and Vodafone, agreed to raise awareness through their local affiliates in more than one Member State, while Mobistar, TDC Denmark, Telekom Austria, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, Telia Sonera and Wind Hellas will promote 116 000 in their domestic markets through a diverse range of actions.
In April 2013, the Commission also launched a new 116 website to boost awareness of 116 000 and related services:
For more information
European Commission - Children's rights
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
Neelie Kroes website
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter
Missing Children Europe website:
State of implementation of the 116 000 in the Member States