With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for people in an emergency situation.
Hopefully it will never happen to you, but many people find themselves in emergency situations while travelling abroad, because they have a car accident, need medical assistance or fall victim to a crime, for instance. The EU has set up an emergency phone number to enable you to get help quickly: 112. You can dial it anywhere in Europe for free to summon the local police, ambulance or fire brigade to your immediate assistance.
Meanwhile, since March 2018, all new cars have to comply with EU legislation and be equipped with the eCall on-board emergency call system. The system will be activated by sensors if you have a serious car accident and will automatically call the 112 number, communicating your car’s location, the time and the direction of travel, even if you are unconscious or unable to call. You can also trigger it manually by pushing a button in the car, for instance if you witness a serious accident. It is estimated that the system could save up to 2 500 lives a year.
If you fall sick while travelling in Europe, EU legislation gives you the same right to state-provided healthcare as people insured in the country concerned, and if you carry the European Health Insurance Card, you can avoid paying upfront in most EU countries.
Another example of EU provision for people in emergency situations is the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which supplies coordinated assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters. This can include health assistance from the European Medical Corps, who send doctors and medical equipment in response to emergencies in and outside the EU.
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications, networks, content and technology https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/emergency-and-support-lines
- European Commission’s Directorate General for mobility and transport, https://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/its/road/action_plan/ecall_en
- European Commission’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, http://ec.europa.eu/echo/what/civil-protection/mechanism_en