EU level: European Accessibility Act proposed by the European Commission
On 2 December, the European Commission proposed a Directive on European Accessibility, aimed at ensuring the appropriate requirements of key products and services for people with disabilities.
Launched in the context of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Commissioner proposes new EU rules regarding easier access which will better coordinate efforts regarding the free movement of EU products and services. The proposal is based on a UN convention on the rights of disabled people that entered into force in the EU in 2011, with many Member States already implementing certain measures.
Currently in the EU there are about 80 million people with some degree of disability and it is estimated that the number will increase to 120 million by 2020 due to the ageing of the population. The proposal follows consultation with citizens, civil society organisations and businesses to select products and services, such as cash machines and banking services, personal computers, telephones, television and audiovisual services, transport, e-books and e-commerce.
The initiative aims to facilitate equal participation and an active role in society for disabled people, stimulate innovation and job creation and contribute to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, declared: '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.'