Action 18: Harmonisation of numbering regimes

What is the problem?

After a public consultation it was decided that further harmonisation of the numbering space for businesses was not necessary. Nevertheless, EU-wide phone are needed for services of social value. The most commonly known EU-wide phone numbers are: EU's emergency number 112 and the 116 harmonised numbers for services of social value, including missing children hotline 116 000. As of December 2012, the majority of assigned 116 numbers are still not operational, and the 116 000 service is not yet operational in all Member States.

DAE 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.

Also the work is on-going to link e-Call system with the emergency 112 number.
In the case of crash, an eCall-equipped car will automatically call emergency centre.

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 has the Commission done so far and what are the next steps?

In 2011:

  • The Commission held a public consultation on the future harmonisation of numbering resources for the provision of business services between 6 December 2010 and 28 February 2011.
  • Report on the state of implementation on 112 and launch of Key Performance Indicators
  • Eurobarometer survey on 112 measuring the awareness on 112
  • In February 2012, Vice-President Neelie Kroes launched an initiative to promote 112 with transport companies
  • The eligibility criteria of 116 candidate numbers has been revised and tightened, expert meetings to coordinate the application for candidate numbers were organised.
  • The Commission organized a High Level Conference on to missing children
  • Report on the state of implementation, including 112 and the 116 numbering range was prepared.

In 2012:

  • Report on implementation of 112 and survey on the awareness of 112
  • Launch of initiatives to promote 112
  • Launch of specialized website for the 116 numbers
  • Continued monitoring the transposition of enhanced requirements
  • In May 2012, the Commission encouraged a coalition of telecommunications operators (via GSM Association) to increase and streamline publicity for 116 000 services in 14 Member States (over 250 million citizens). 2012 actions include web publicity, text messages and informing subscribers through their bills. Vice-Presidents Kroes and Reding jointly called Member States that did not render operational its 116 000 hotline to take action.
  • DG JUST provided funding for 116 000 operators via its Daphne Programme
  • Eurobarometer survey was carried to assess awareness and public support in the Member States

In 2013:

  • Follow up to the contribution of telecom operators
  • Update to the 116 website
Reference links:


112 - The European emergency number

116, Right of the Child

Missing Children conference: Closing the gaps - 116 000 hotlines and child abduction alert systems

Survey on Harmonised numbers for services of social value-116

eCall safety

Press releases:

- Statement by Vice-Presidents Viviane Reding and Neelie Kroes on International Missing Children's Day

- Vice-President Kroes urges member states and citizens to endorse 116 000 hotline for missing children