neelie kroes.automotiveIT

EU Commissioner Kroes says eCall is a high priority (Photo: EU Commission)

The European Commission is stepping up the pressure on member countries to introduce eCall, an in-car emergency calling system that it wants to make mandatory by 2015.

Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner in charge of the 27-nation bloc's digital agenda said she has recommended to the countries that they tell their mobile operators to put the necessary infrastructure in place.

ECall requires a system that lets a car automatically dial an emergency phone call in case of an accident. That call then needs to always work, regardless of where the car is within the EU.

"The introduction of a harmonized EU-wide interoperable eCall service in Europe is a high priority of the commission," Kroes told a European Parliament transportation committee last week. She said eCall could reduce road fatalities by 4 pc and serious injuries by at least 6 pc.

ECall has been debated by the automotive and mobile phone industries for years, but progress toward EU-wide implementation has been bogged down in discussions about costs, technology, cross-border standards, regulations and other issues.

Kroes said the EU Commission considered various options, but "concluded that mandatory introduction is the most cost-efficient option."

The EU recommendation means mobile ntwork operations need to make sure that eCalls will be properly identified and get the same level of service as other emergency calls.

Kroes said she wanted to send a clear signal to all parties involved. "The eCall service will without any doubt be implemented in all vehicles in Europe, so vehicle manufacturers, network operators and member states should start working on it, if they have not yet done so," she said.

To meet its deadline, the EU Commission is also working on a change to vehicle-type approval legislation and on new specifications for emergency call response centers.