The European Commission has launched a public consultation asking whether there are benefits in a system that would allow businesses to use the same telephone number in all EU Member States. It suggests EU-wide phone numbers could reinforce the EU's Single Market, helping European businesses to offer cross-border sales more easily. In addition, non-geographic numbers in some member states are often not reachable from other states.
Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, said “Today, businesses need to have a separate telephone number in every Member State where their customers need to contact them. This makes it difficult to develop EU-wide services for their customers. I urge all interested parties to help us formulate a policy that addresses the needs of businesses and provides more convenient access for consumers.”
EU telecoms rules currently offer two possible solutions. One option could be introducing an EU-wide ‘shortcode’ number that could be reserved for businesses; alternatively, a European telephone access code could be created along with a range of telephone numbers. The International Telecommunications Union introduced a European code of +3883 in 2000, although this was little-publicised and is due to lapse at the end of this year.
The consultation will run until 28th February 2011.