EU-wide phone numbers could reinforce single market

6 Dec 2010

The European Commission (EC) is investigating the benefits of allowing businesses to use the same telephone number in all EU Member States, which it believes could reinforce the EU’s single market.

The Commission contends that an EU-wide phone number could help businesses to offer cross-border sales more easily as well as facilitate access to after sales and customer enquiry services, no matter where the customer is situated.

Improve business practices

Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the EC for Digital Agenda believes that the formulation of the one-number policy would improve business practices, as well as accommodate customers.

“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.”

No current EU-wide numbers

There is currently no EU-wide number available for businesses that wish to be reachable across borders. Instead, companies need to rely on different national or non-geographic “business” numbers, such as 0800-numbers in each Member State.

The Commission is to host a consultation that will help it assess the market demand for European business phone numbers, and will ask questions on market fragmentation, possible ways to harmonise telephone numbers, market demands for the future and management of the numbers.

The consultation will run until February 2011.