The member states’ permanent representatives today endorsed the compromise reached between the Council and the European Parliament concerning a decision to introduce a mandatory EU-wide system to handle emergency calls sent automatically by cars or triggered manually by people in the car in case of a crash (eCalls).

When we will have eCall in place?

Member states must have the infrastructure to handle eCalls in place at least 6 months before the type-approval requirements for the corresponding in-vehicle device start to apply, and in any case no later than 1 October 2017.

The technical requirements for eCall devices, which are to be fitted to all new cars and light vans, are contained in a separate proposal.

Swifter emergency assistance

The EU-wide eCall is expected to speed up the emergency services’ response time by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside, bringing down the number of fatalities and reducing the severity of injuries suffered in road accidents. It will also cut down congestion caused by accidents and the number of secondary accidents at unsecured accident sites. 

How does an eCall work?

If an eCall-equipped car is involved in a collision anywhere in Europe, it automatically creates a voice link to the nearest 112 emergency centre, using a public mobile wireless communications network. At the same time it transmits data, including the time of the crash, precise location (GNSS), direction of driving, vehicle identification number and propulsion type.

The calls will be handled free of charge by a public authority or a private organisation recognised by the member state. Member states will remain free to decide how they organise their emergency services. As some of the manually triggered eCalls may be calls for technical assistance, member states may decide to put in place a filtering system to ensure that only real emergency calls are handled by the eCall emergency centres.

The specifications for the eCall emergency centres are set out in Commission delegated regulation 305/2013.

Data protection

Member states will ensure that data transmitted via the eCall service are used exclusively for the objectives of the eCall decision and that the processing of personal data in the context of handling eCalls fully complies with the relevant EU personal data protection rules.

Informing citizens

Before the launch of the new system, an awareness campaign supported by the Commission will explain to citizens how to use the system, how to avoid false alarms and how the data involved are protected.

Next steps

To enter into force, the text still needs to be formally approved by the Parliament, whose vote in plenary is expected to take place in April, and the Council, which is due to take its decision after the vote in Parliament. The procedure (agreement at first reading) is expected to be completed this spring.