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Action 18: Harmonisation of numbering regimes

New rules for harmonising EU-wide telephone numbers by 2011.

What is the problem?

Currently there are just a few EU-wide phone numbers. The most known are: EU's emergency number 112 and missing children hotline 116 000. As of November 2011, the majority of assigned 116 numbers are still not operational, and the 116 000 is assigned only in 20 Member States (operational in 17)

In the DAE, it was envisaged that "improved harmonisation of national numbering regimes on the basis of the current framework could help European manufacturers and retailers by enabling sales, after-sales and customer enquiry services over a single Europe-wide number, while the better functioning of socially useful numbers (e.g. 116 numbers used for hotlines for missing children) will benefit citizens".

Why is the EU action required?

Thanks to the deployment of the Europe-wide 112 emergency number, anyone can phone emergency services in any Member State without having to remember 27 different national emergency telephone numbers. The common 116 000 hotlines for missing children are becoming operational throughout the EU as well.

However, experience shows that even the existing harmonised numbers still face considerable implementation difficulties. As regards the introduction of new numbers (short numbers or ETNS), while they may offer potential for business as well as public services, a closer analysis of the tendencies and developments in the numbering area as well in the market, supported also by the results of a public consultation carried out in this respect, has shown that the introduction of new numbers at this stage would not seem appropriate.

What will the Commission do?

By the end of 2011, the European Commission will have:

  • taken a policy decision not to proceed with further harmonisation of EU-wide phone for business services at this stage. The Commission will continue to monitor developments and may reassess as considered appropriate.
  • Tightened-up the eligibility criteria for 116 numbers, and organized ad hoc expert meetings to coordinate the application for candidate numbers.
  • Continued monitoring the transposition of enhanced requirements on Member States introduced by the Citizens Right Directive on 112 and 116 numbers. In the course of expert meetings, promoted the exchange of best practices for the promotion of 116 numbers.
  • developed actions to raise awareness for the 116 numbers, and in particular the number 116 000. These actions include collaboration with DG JUST in an expert level conference on 116000, the inauguration of a new 116 INFSO website by the end of the year, and the involvement of stakeholders, such as dialogue with industry and hotline providers and wider public (such as design competition for children for 2012).