Five EU member states fail to comply with accessibility and location of emergency communications provisions
The European Commission announced on June 25, 2019, that it will pursue infringement proceedings against five member states – Croatia, Czechia, Germany, Greece and Spain – for lack of compliance with EU law in the implementation of 112. The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) has lauded this move to ensure the safety of EU citizens by enforcing lifesaving legislation.
Croatia, Czechia, Greece and Spain have been criticised for failing to ensure that people with disabilities have ‘equal access’ to emergency services, a principle laid down in the Universal Service Directive. This principle not only requires member states to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens can easily contact the emergency services, but it also means that their location must be provided to the PSAPs (emergency control rooms).
In 2019, ten years after the Universal Service Directive entered into force, “It is inconceivable that people with disabilities in Greece have no means to contact the emergency services,” according to EENA.
The European Commission has also expressed concerns about how location information is provided to PSAPs in Germany and Greece. While EU legislation requires emergency calls to be located “as soon as the call reaches” the PSAPs, Greek authorities reported that on average it takes more than four minutes for emergency services to obtain this information.
“Rapid response is crucial in times of emergency,” commented EENA’s Benoit Vivier. “Accurate caller location information is lifesaving and essential for emergency services to find people in danger, especially those who cannot explain where they are.”
The second step of the infringement procedure consists of a formal message being sent to the five member states in question. This will include explanations about why the Commission considers that the specific country is breaching EU law. It also requests measures to be taken in order to meet the objectives set out in the legislation within two months. If a country still fails to comply after this period, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, which could eventually result in financial penalties.
EENA says it welcomes the pursuit of these infringement proceedings and congratulates the European Commission for its efforts to ensure the correct implementation of European legislation for the safety of citizens. Once again, the association has called on the relevant authorities in the five member states concerned to take all the necessary efforts to ensure that, a decade after its entry into force, the Universal Service Directive is finally implemented.
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