Brussels, 11 February 2014
European travellers face risks abroad – half unaware they can call “112” in emergencies in all EU countries
Most Europeans are still unsure about which number they should call in case of emergency in a foreign country. According to a Eurobarometer survey conducted at the end of January 2014, 49% of Europeans do not know they can use “112” to reach emergency services. Despite years of efforts, ignorance levels remain stuck at around 50%, including for regular travellers.
The citizens most at risk are those from Greece (10%) and United Kingdom (18%). The most aware are in Luxembourg (80%), Romania (71%), Poland and Bulgaria (70%).
European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has written to all national governments this week to urge them to improve caller location and disabled access features of national 112 systems, and to run advertising campaigns targeted at travellers.
Neelie Kroes said: "I am worried that citizens are ignorant of an important basic service, and that national governments are not doing more to make them aware. The EU has made the service available, now others must also take their responsibility.”
112 is reachable from fixed and mobile phones, free of charge, everywhere in the EU. 112 links the caller to the relevant emergency service (local police, fire brigade, medical service) in a choice of European languages. It is available 24 hours / seven days a week.
Up to 96% of citizens (Sweden) are aware they can use “112” in their home country.
February 11th is the European 112 Day, a day aimed at attracting public attention to safety and security in Europe.
In the past years, the European Commission has worked with travel operators to publicise the 112 services to those who travel through Europe.
The Commission has also produced promotional material (including logos, posters, banners, quizzes for children etc.) that can be used by public administrations or any other organization to boost 112-awareness.
112 is now operational in all EU member states alongside existing national emergency numbers (like 999 or 110). Denmark, Finland, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Sweden have decided to make 112 their sole or main national emergency number. 112 is also being used in countries outside the EU, such as Switzerland, Montenegro and Turkey.
According to the report on how each Member State is implementing 112:
English can be used in 25 European countries besides UK, Ireland and Malta;
14 countries (besides Belgium, France and Luxembourg) can deal with calls in French: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain;
German can be used 12 countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Romania (in addition to Austria, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg);
In the UK, emergency call centres can rely on interpretation services covering 170 languages, while in France a similar service can deal with 40 languages.
Hash Tags: #112, #emergency
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Annex: For the attention of the National Authority(ies) responsible for 112
As you know, today, 11 February, is a special date for the European Emergency Number 112. This is the number all European citizens can call, free of charge, in order to contact the emergency services, be it the ambulance, fire-brigade or police. Unfortunately, 112 still remains unknown to too many Europeans and I cannot say today that the Single European Emergency number is accessible to all, functioning in an efficient way and used by all those who need emergency relief.
I would like to remind you of what EU lawmakers, including your country as part of the Council, have decided in order to support mobility and safety throughout the territory of the EU:
Caller location: Caller location accuracy criteria should be laid down by Member States in order to save lives, time and resources when deploying the emergency relief.
Access for all: Disabled end-users should have equivalent access to 112 through alternative means to 112 voice calls.
Awareness on 112: 112 helps only when you know about it! EU legislation calls on Member States to ensure that citizens are adequately informed about the existence and use of the single emergency call number "112", in particular through initiatives specifically targeting persons travelling. Notwithstanding, this obligation, our latest survey shows that only 41% of Europeans are aware that 112 is "EU-wide".
On this last point, my services have supported national authorities producing "112" promotion videos which could serve as a basis of an advertising campaign organised in each Member State:
I would also draw your attention to the latest COCOM 1121 implementation report which indicates that there is a long way to go to effectively implement 112 in EU Member States.
May I kindly request you to provide my services by 30 March 2014 with information about your plans for promoting and effectively implementing 112.2
Let me wish you a safe 112 Day!
Please reply to the following e-mail address: email@example.com; the promotion videos translated by national authorities in national languages will be uploaded on http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/112-promotional-material