The universal service rules ensure that every user can access basic communications services at a reasonable quality and an affordable price, even if the market would not provide it.

The Universal Service Directive covers the following areas:

  • Basic communication services such as making a phone call from a fixed location at an affordable price or receiving national and international calls over a fixed connection;
  • Making emergency calls such as to the ‘112’ European emergency number in any EU country free of charge from any telephone, including public payphones;
  • Every EU country must make available to customers a comprehensive telephone directory of all subscribers;
  • Access to the publicly available telephone services to all, including people with special needs or low income, who may receive direct support pubilc authorities.
  • A sufficient number of payphones are available in public areas.

Compliance is ensured in two ways:

The Commission regularly consults with EU Member States, the European Parliament, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and other stakeholders. As part of its regular review of the the scope of the EU universal service rules (see 2005/2006 and 2008 reviews), the European Commission concluded in 2011 (see the public consultation) that there was no need to change the basic principles or scope of the rules or to include mobile telecommunications services or broadband connections at EU level.