Single European emergency number 112 can be used throughout the entire Union.

AD – 03/2019

On 11 February 2019, the EU Commission published its Annual Working Document 2019 on the implementation of the single European emergency number 112. This particular date, known as ‘European 112 Day’, is used annually by policy makers, public administrations and the media to raise citizen awareness of the emergency number. The date was not chosen randomly but rather because it is day 11 of month 2, which forms the emergency number.

The report covers the period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. Compared to the previous year, the total number of 112 calls across Europe rose by 5%; calls to other emergency numbers dropped by 2.5%. The number of 112 calls made as a percentage of all emergency calls now stands at 48%.

Accuracy of caller location has improved since Malta and Slovenia began using Advanced Mobile Location (AML). AML is also used in Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. The EU Commission is providing financial support for the system to be introduced in Denmark, Germany, France, Croatia, Portugal, Sweden and Hungary. This brings the total number of participating countries to fifteen.

The proportion of emergency calls made from mobile phones increased by 3% to 73% during the reporting period. The EU Commission’s intention to establish the European Electronic Communications Code is seen as a means of further increasing this percentage.

European Electronic Communications Code

The EU Commission presented the code as part of its proposal for Directive (EU) 2018/1972, with the intention of modernising the directives already issued in 2002. Its aim is to establish a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks, electronic communication services, associated facilities and services, and certain aspects of terminal equipment.

The Directive sets out the responsibilities of national regulatory authorities and other competent authorities, as well as a set of procedures to ensure the consistent application of the regulatory framework throughout the EU. Of the many provisions, many of which are technical, there are only a few that can be singled out as relevant to the emergency number 112 proposals.

In accordance with Union law harmonising accessibility requirements for products and services, Member States are being asked to implement specific measures to ensure that emergency services, including the single European emergency number 112, are accessible to end-users with disabilities, especially deaf, hearing-impaired, speech-impaired and deaf-blind end-users. This could include the provision of special terminal devices for end-users with disabilities if other communication channels are not suitable for them.

It is important to raise awareness of the single European emergency number 112 in order to improve the level of protection and security of citizens travelling in the European Union. To do this, citizens should be made aware that the single European emergency number 112 can be used anywhere in the Union as a single emergency number. It is particularly important that this information be provided in international bus terminals, train stations, ports or airports, as well as in telephone directories, end-user material and billing material.

This is primarily a responsibility of the Member States, but the Commission will continue to support and supplement Member State initiatives to raise awareness of the single European emergency number 112 and regularly assess public awareness of this emergency number.

A citizen in one Member State cannot contact emergency services from another Member State because the emergency services in his or her Member State may not have contact details of the emergency services in other Member States. Therefore, a Union-wide secure database of numbers should be set up for one or more lead emergency services in each country.

To that end, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) should maintain a database with E.164 telephone numbers for Member State emergency services, unless some other organisation maintains such a database, so that the emergency services of one Member State can be contacted by the emergency services of another Member State. (E.164: ‘The international public telecommunications numbering plan’ of the International Telecommunication Union.)

The BEREC Office in Riga (Latvia) is an EU agency that ensures EU legislation is applied consistently, so that the EU has a functioning single market for electronic communications.