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European Accessibility Act: provisional agreement reached

On 8 November the European Parliament and the Council came to a provisional agreement on the Commission’s proposal for a European Accessibility Act (EAA). The agreement will be submitted to the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) for approval. Once the Member States’ Permanent Representatives confirm the agreement, the European Parliament will vote in the plenary session and the Council will conclude by the final adoption.

The European Accessibility Act aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services by removing barriers created by divergent legislation. The Accessibility Act will establish European-wide functional requirements. This means requirements establishing accessibility principles instead of prescribing the detailed technical solutions.

The Act applies to:

  • computers and operating systems;
  • ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines;
  • Smartphones;
  • TV equipment related to digital television services;
  • telephony services and related equipment ;
  • audiovisual media services such as television broadcast and related consumer equipment;
  • services related to air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport;
  • banking services;
  • e-books;
  • e-commerce.

This EAA will facilitate the work of companies and will bring benefits for persons with disabilities and elderly people in the EU. Businesses will benefit from the elimination of barriers caused by a fragmented market thanks to the creation of a single set of requirements which will simplify cross-border trade. The market costs for companies and Member States due to divergent requirements are estimated at € 20 billion in 2020. The proposed EU action is estimated to reduce it by 45% to 50%. The extra production costs introduced with the EAA will be very low or even non-existent. The potential benefits are expected to be higher than the potential accessibility-related costs for all economic operators

The EAA is a step forward in reducing barriers for people with disabilities and older people within the EU: better accessibility of products and services that citizens use every day, such as phones, transport or banking services, will improve their social inclusion in society.

The EAA is an important step forward, nevertheless, social inclusion of persons with disabilities and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are still far from be achieved. Accessibility criteria need to be extended to the built environment and transport and affordable quality community-based services have to be available for persons with disabilities and their families.

For more information, contact Irene Bertana, Policy and Advocacy Officer

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