In the event of an accident (where the airbag sensors are set off) the eCall device will alert rescue services automatically, using the existing 112 emergency number. It is thought that response times could be halved, especially in rural areas.
The information that will be provided to the emergency crews will be:
- type of vehicle
- fuel used
- time of accident
From 31 March 2018 new cars and light vans will have the system as standard. The technology was first proposed in 2012, but legislation was delayed amid privacy concerns.
You can already have this technology in your car by purchasing a Road Angel Gem which has it as an inbuilt feature (eAssist)
The European Commission says installation of the device is likely to add about €100 (£72; $109) to the cost of a new car.
A standard accident alert system is needed in Europe, because "when you cross a border you have a language problem and often do not even really know where you are", said Czech Social Democrat MEP Olga Sehnalova, the parliament's lead negotiator on the issue.
But Jan Philipp Albrecht from the Greens said the technology should not be mandatory.
"The consequence of being connected all the time means that we are also subject to more possibilities to track us," he told the BBC.
"We reduced the data being processed to a very minimum, but nonetheless it is technically possible for companies, or for an authority, to track your position and to even surveil you. So I don't think this should be obliged to everybody. Everybody should have the chance to opt out."
The UK government objects to the plans. UK Transport Minister Claire Perry said "the benefit of making eCall mandatory in all new cars does not justify the cost of implementing it.
"We do not support the measure, because it is not cost-effective for us."