European car makers could be forced to install technology which would automatically call emergency services in the event of a crash by 2014.
The eCall system is designed to save the lives of people who are unconscious or disorientated after an accident, and the European Commission is eager to make it mandatory in new cars.
However, its introduction has been held back due to concerns over costs, with five EU countries, including Britain and Ireland, refusing to commit.
"If the eCall rollout does not accelerate, the Commission stands ready to set out clear rules obliging governments, industry and emergency services to respond," said European Telecommunications Commissioner Viviane Reding.
“I want to see the first eCall cars on our roads next year.”
It is estimated that the system could save 2500 lives across Europe annually. No prices for the system were available.