EENA reminds Mr. Oettinger of his responsibilities

Regarding the views of Commissioner Mr. Oettinger as published in Bild and relayed in Politico.

The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) was somewhat surprised to read the views of Commissioner Mr. Oettinger which were published on Wednesday evening (23 March) in Bild and relayed in Politico, complaining about the lack of cooperation by the police services both within Brussels and within Europe. It also appears that this topic is not in the Commissioner’s portfolio, while another strongly related topic – 112 and emergency services, which includes the police service – is.

EENA would like to remind Mr. Oettinger that with regard to the latter, he, his predecessor and his services have refused to act on several requests from various Ministers of Interior for more cooperation between countries. This includes a complete inaction on the maintenance of a secure database enabling emergency services - including police - to be able to call each other across countries – in simple terms, the emergency services (112) in France do not have the long international phone numbers of the emergency services (112) in Belgium, and vice-versa.

Another abject failure is his decision not to act on the provision of caller location; the emergency services – including police - do not know where the caller is located (accuracy is often with a radius of several kilometres); and some Member States still get the location information after a lengthy delay, often as much as half an hour after the call and via… FAX!

In addition to this, Mr. Oettinger’s services have decided to stand down the work of the Expert Group on Emergency Access (EGEA) which used to gather the emergency services experts - including the police - from all Member States to discuss policy-related matters. EGEA has not met since May 2013.

It is easy to criticise when things go wrong; judging retrospectively has no value for European citizens. We would therefore encourage Mr. Oettinger to refrain from simply passing criticism until the services that he is responsible for do their share and advance on the items that should have progressed years ago. Similar to the national authorities that he is referring to, Mr. Oettinger is a policy and decision-maker and not merely a commentator, so we respectfully ask him to discharge his responsibility in full and make progress towards a safer Europe for our citizens and visitors alike.

Yours Sincerely,

The EENA Team

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EENA, the European Emergency Number Association, is a Brussels-based NGO set up in 1999 dedicated to promoting high-quality emergency services reached by the number 112 throughout the EU. EENA serves as a discussion platform for emergency services, public authorities, decision makers, researchers, associations and solution providers with a view to improving the emergency response in accordance with citizens' requirements. EENA is also promoting the establishment of an efficient system for alerting citizens about imminent or developing emergencies.

The EENA memberships include more than 1300 emergency services representatives from over 80 countries world-wide, 80 solution providers, 15 international associations/organisations, more than 200 Members of the European Parliament and over 90 researchers.