ecall.automotiveITEurope moved one step closer Thursday to an automated emergency calling system for all cars with the adoption by the European Commission of two pieces of legislation to turn the plan into reality.

The executive body of the 27-nation European Union adopted a regulation outlining the type-approval requirements needed for the planned "eCall" system; and it formulated plans to make the EU-wide public infrastructure fit for eCall.

The legislation now moves to the European Parliament. It will then have to be approved by the EU's national governments before it becomes law.

The eCall system automatically dials a Europe-wide emergency number in case of a serious accident. It then communicates a vehicle's location and some other key data to the emergency services. The Commission says eCall could speed up emergency response times by 40-50 pc and save as many as 2,500 lives. The proposals have, however, been controversial with automakers because it would force them to adopt an emergency calling technology that can differ from the ones they have already implemented. The auto industry also worries about the high costs of the system.

The Commission first proposed eCall in 2009 and called on the auto industry to adopt the project voluntarily. But in recent years, technical and regulatory progress was seen as too slow to meet the 2015 target date for adoption.

Thursday's draft legislation will ensure that from October 2015, all new models of passenger cars and light duty vehicles will be fitted with eCall, the Commission said in a press release.

"Today's proposals are a milestone for safer roads in the EU, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said. And Neelie Kroes, the commissioner in charge of the EU's digital policies, added: "EU-wide eCall is a big step forward for road safety. When you need emergency support it's much better to be connected than to be alone, that's the value of ICT."