Catherine said "I have today signed the online petition that calls on the European Commission to guarantee the implementation of the Universal Service Directive and save lives across Europe. This is just the sort of thing that the European Union should be capable of implementing, and it is such a missed opportunity that it is not following through on this initiative."
In the EU15 to 30 % of the emergency calls get an inappropriate or even no answer at all!
Accidents happen! When they do we all need high quality help as soon as possible at the right place. The first move when facing an accident, a fire or an aggression is to call an emergency number. In the UK we know that a call to 999 will get a response, but do we know what to do when we are travelling in Europe? Are you going to get the same quality of help as in your home country?
Among more than 100 million Europeans who travel for holidays or business within the EU every year, only 35 millions know about the 112 number. And for some countries with high of tourists -like the UK and France- this percentage is even lower. This despite the legal obligation that "Member States shall ensure that citizens are adequately informed about the existence and use of the single European emergency call number '112'."
According to the European Commission, implementation of caller localisation at EU level could help save some 5,000 lives annually and EUR 5,000,000,000 to emergency services every year (so to the taxpayers' money). This means that since location is also a legal obligation for Member States since 2003, its non-implementation has caused the death of some 15.000 people because the emergency services they called where not able to locate them.
Answering and handling of calls is highly problematic in several Member States.
The Universal Service Directive provides that "Member States shall ensure that calls to the single European emergency call number '112' are appropriately answered and handled in a manner best suited to the national organisation of emergency systems and within the technological possibilities of the networks". However, no universal quality criteria have been established for emergency services concerning answering and handling of calls to the 112. Portugal, who had the courage to evaluate the quality of answering and handling of such calls, found out that for 15% to 30% of calls, citizens did not get the help they asked for.
For all these reasons, the European Emergency Number Association introduced a petition to the European Parliament on 29 July 2005, 14 years after the official introduction of the 112. But the 112 should be the concern of every European Citizen. Article 47 on participatory democracy in the proposed Constitutional Treaty1 (supported by the European Commission), wants the citizens in the EU to become more active and to participate in the debate on European issues.
"I have now joined this citizens' initiative to collect one million signatures to request the European Commission to act appropriately on this issue and to play its role as Guardian of the Treaties for the safety of European citizens. I hope you will join me", said Catherine.