The adoption of the European Parliament’s position on the European Accessibility Act (EAA) on 14 September 2017 concluded the first step in the legislative process around the EAA. In the coming months, the Member States will discuss their position on the Act in the Council.
Since the publication of the European Commission’s proposal for EAA in 2015 , ENIL has emphasized the importance of a strong and comprehensive Accessibility Act, as this would support the implementation of the UNCRPD across the EU and its Member States. While the first Parliament report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO Committee) weakened the initial proposal of the Commission, ENIL is happy to see that the final position of the Parliament contains several improvements which shift the focus more towards equal access to products and services for all EU citizens. This position paper builds upon previous ENIL position papers and compares the Parliament’s position with the initial Commission proposal of 2015. The aim is to both identify areas of progress and outline suggestions, in order to avoid inconsistencies and unlock the full potential of the Accessibility Act.
ENIL would especially like to highlight the following positive improvements to the Act by the Parliament Report :
- Scope: The most important improvement in the scope is the extension of transport services to also include urban transport, taxis and hire cars
- Built environment: ENIL is happy to see the strong requirement to make the built environment and infrastructure related to the provision of products and service accessible
- Penalties: It is goo to see that the Act recognizes that penalties shall not serve as an alternative to the obligation to make products and services accessible.
At the same time we would also like to express our concerns about some of the developments which put at risk the spirit of the proposed European Accessibility Act and have the potential to undermine its legitimacy:
- Emergency services: It is essential to keep the obligation to make telephony services including emergency services accessible. All EU citizens should get equal access to the European emergency number 112. Not including this in the EAA would not only be a missed opportunity to make essential services more accessible.
- Definition: It is regretful that the definition of universal design has been deleted in the Parliament’s position. The right to Independent Living applies to all areas of life and can only be realized if all products and services are equally accessible to all users.
- Exemption of mircoenterprises: The EAA will not apply to microenterprises. This is problematic, because microenterprises are often the most readily available providers of products and services.
You can find ENIL’s position paper here.