The European Parliament has approved today new rules on roaming in the European Union. The new regulation, which will come into force on 01 July 2022, brings important additions and clarifications for emergency communications when the end-users are roaming.

The first thing that usually comes to mind when mentioning ‘112’ and ‘roaming’ is the SMS reminding everyone entering in an EU Member State that ‘112’ is the European emergency number. This useful reminder will remain but this will also be completed by information on the alternative means of access to emergency services. Such information will be sent via a link in the SMS to a dedicated webpage which will provide information on the alternative ways to contact emergency services in the visited Member State. To make this possible, the Body of Electronic Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will set up and maintain a database on the different means of access to emergency services in each country.

But there is actually more than that and additional measures bring important elements to ensure the good functioning of emergency communications when roaming. New rules will impose mobile network operators (MNOs) to include in their cooperation agreements information on how to ensure that the emergency communications (including alternative means of access for people with disability) will remain free of charge and the caller location information (both network-based and handset-derived) will be transmitted free of charge to the PSAPs. In addition, the new regulation makes emergency communications free of charge at the wholesale level (it was already free of charge at the retail level), meaning that MNOs cannot levy charges on each other when a roaming end-user contacts emergency services in the visited country.

The final step before the entry into force of the regulation on 1 July 2022 is the formal adoption of the text by the Council of the European Union (which represents the governments of the EU Member States). Once in application, the new rules will be valid until 30 June 2032.

EENA welcomes the new rules which bring clarity regarding the fact that emergency communications and the transmission of location information will be done free of charge and consolidates the importance to promote the existence of the European emergency number 112.