Saturday, 12 July 2008

EU report about hotline numbers to report missing children

"A year ago the Commission called for European 116 phone numbers to make it easier for parents and children to call for help," said Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner. "So far only Hungary has taken all the necessary steps to get 116 services up and running. I applaud this example, but alarm bells should be ringing in the other 26 Member States. Under the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, signed by all EU Member States, the rights of the child must be protected. It is a pity that in many countries action doesn't seem to follow words when it comes to implementing numbers that can provide precious help to parents and children. The Commission has done its part of the job and hopes that it won't be necessary to start legal proceedings on a matter where there should be broad consensus."

Today's survey shows that more progress is needed to get 116 000 and 116111 services working across the EU:

116000 and 116111 numbers have been made publicly available in 24 countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia) but not in Italy, Latvia or the UK. The deadlines for reserving these numbers were 30 August 2007 (116000) and 29 February 2008 (116111).

Most countries did little to inform potential service providers about the 116000 and 116111 numbers. This has delayed the take-up of these numbers by potential providers, mostly non-governmental organisations. Greater efforts – press releases, e-mails/letters to potential providers, meetings – were made in Finland, France (for 116000), Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Potential hotline providers have expressed interest in 116000 in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the UK, while potential 116111 helpline providers have come forward in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia and the UK. However, only seven Member States (Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovakia) have assigned 116000 to service providers while ten others (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Sweden and Slovakia) have assigned 116111.

So far, only Hungary has reported that both 116000 and 116111 are operational. It is up to hotline and helpline providers to launch services once a Member State assigns them a number. These service providers must be able to adequately handle free of charge calls 24/7, nation-wide. The Commission closely follows implementation in the Member States.”