Last week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a reform that will make 112 and public warning fully operational by the end of this year, following the aftermath of the violent storms in Halkidiki.
EENA welcomes this measure as excellent news for Greek citizens and tourists alike, and as always, will remain available for any support that might be needed to reach these objectives.
However, we would like to remind both the Prime Minister and the European Commission that such objectives have been announced for years without any concrete progress.
For about 10 years, Greek authorities regularly announced plans and reforms that in practice never happened. We have spent a considerable amount of time raising these issues to both the Greek Authorities and the European Commission, including efforts from several MEPs over the years. Their letters were left without answer by the Commission, until a parliamentary question resulted in a communication claiming that a modernisation would be implemented by the beginning of 2016…except it never was.
While we’d like to simply trust words, experience taught us to remain cautious, because the reality is that this lack of implementation of both 112 and public warning has impacted the safety of citizens and visitors over the last years. Just last year, wildfires in the Athens region turned into a tragedy that raised serious concerns about the role of the government in ensuring public safety.
We also invite the European Commission to carefully monitor the situation. We applaud Commissioner Mariya Gabriel who, unlike her predecessors, took some actions towards progress. We hope the next Commissioner will follow her steps and make sure that EU law is enforced.
Therefore, EENA intends to act as a watchdog and will surely report on the upcoming improvements. To this end, we would like to give a reminder of some key elements of the legislation on 112:
- Getting inaccurate location by fax after some 30 minutes is not compliant with EU law. EU law now requires Member States to ensure that handset-based location is delivered to PSAPs in due time. We would recommend taking the urgent necessary steps towards this objective.
- Since 2009, EU law mandates that 112 should also be accessible to people with disabilities. We urge the Greek authorities to ensure that this is finally done.
- We welcome the steps towards the deployment of an efficient public warning system, but we would like to give a reminder that the necessary operational organisation is needed to effectively be able to launch an alert.
Once again, we extend our congratulations to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for his commitment to improve public safety. We therefore invite him to celebrate with us the full deployment of 112 and public warning during a press conference in Athens on European 112 Day 2020.
EENA’s satirical interview with former Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, May 2016