As a run up to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the European Commission published the first draft of the long anticipated European Accessibility Act (EAA). In her announcement Commissioner Thyssen said “Disability should not be a barrier to full participation in society, nor should the lack of EU common rules be a barrier to cross-border trade in accessible products and services. With this Act, we want to deepen the internal market and use its potential for the benefit of both companies and citizens with disabilities. In fact, we all may benefit from it”.
ENIL applauds the fact that the Act is published as a legally binding directive which shows the Commission’s commitment to disability rights. In a first reaction ENIL’s executive director Jamie Bolling said “There needs to be a stronger framework to oblige countries already bound by the UN CRPD to make sure that accessible goods and services allow disabled people to participate fully in the society. I still look forward to being able to take the bus that passes in front of my house. New inaccessible buses were bought in May 2015 by the county council of Västernorrland in the Mid-Sweden region excluding me a wheelchair user. The EU bus passenger rights directive does not apply to city transport so I put my hope in this directive. Disabled people have been and continue to claim our rights to a society that is organized so that diversity will reign.”
The publication of the Act is followed by a stakeholder consultation period of 8 weeks. ENIL will analyse the text of the Accessibility Act in the next few weeks and looks forward to working together with the Commission and other civil society organization to make sure that the EAA really is a historic step towards an inclusive and accessible society. We will keep you updated on any developments regarding the EAA with regular posts on the ENIL website.
More information can be found on the following links:
- European Commission’s proposal of the Accessibility Act
- The press conference of Commissioner Thyssen on the Accessibility Act
- European Commission’s press release
- European Accessibility Act Factsheet