Maltese Presidency supports a strong Accessibility Act

24 January 2017
Member of the European Parliament, Helga Stevens and Adam Kosa, are discussing the European Accessibility Act with the Member of EDF Executive Committee, Yannis Yallouros

At the meeting of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament on 19 January in Strasbourg, the European Accessibility Act, a proposal for a law that can potentially improve the accessibility of products and services sold in the EU, was high on the agenda.

EDF was represented by Mr Yannis Yallouros, member of the Executive committee. Mr Yallouros presented the views of EDF in the meeting, and explained many ways in which the Accessibility Act can become a strong piece of legislation, assisting Member States in implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in the EU’s internal market.

On a very positive note, the representative of the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union, Parliamentary Secretary for persons with disabilities Ms Justyna Caruana, gave a strong speech in support of the Accessibility Act. “We want to speed up the adoption of the Act, even if it means some short-term pain – it will be for the long-term gain!”.

The Presidency wishes to extend the scope of the Directive and include the built environment, make definitions more clear and close some existing loopholes on the “disproportionate burdens” which would allow economic operators to get exemptions from the accessibility requirements. EDF expressed its full support and is looking forward to working together with the Maltese Presidency to achieve these goals, even though it will not be an easy task.

Although confirmed for the programme, unfortunately the Rapporteur for the European Accessibility, MEP Morten Løkkegaard, was unable to attend the meeting. Since the Rapporteur has the most important job in developing the European Parliament’s position on the Accessibility Act, it is very important to have the opportunity to discuss the Act with him, and for him to hear and understand the perspectives of persons with disabilities, and the members of the Disability Intergroup.

Any policy developed without proper consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities risks being ineffective to promote accessibility.

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