EU Transport Policy

We believe that all people have the right to enjoy seamless, accessible and independent travel. EU Treaties and Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. guarantee the right to free movement for all citizens. Despite this fact, persons with disabilities still do not fully benefit from this right as the transport system throughout the EU remains inaccessible.

We actively lobby the European Union to move towards a barrier-free Europe for all to achieve a fully accessible transport chain from door to door.


Our work on air transport policy

EDF regularly receives information from members about discrimination experienced when travelling – or trying to travel – by air. The reported cases of discrimination cover a broad range of problems such as being denied boarding or booking tickets because of a disability, lack of or unsatisfactory assistance, damaged or lost mobility equipment etc. It is thus one of EDF’s main aims to facilitate air travel for persons with disabilities and improve the EU legislation in this field.

The most important existing law is Regulation 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air. It was adopted in July 2006, establishing a set of specific rights for passengers with disabilities. The outcome is a real success-story. The basic principles of this regulation are:

  •  Persons with disabilities should not be discriminated against when booking a ticket or boarding an airplane.
  •  Persons with disabilities have the right to receive assistance at the airport at no additional charge.
  •  All staff dealing directly with the traveling public must receive relevant training, including disability awareness training.

However, air carriers have the possibility to deny boarding to persons with disabilities for “safety reasons” – a loophole which should of course be eliminated as soon as possible.  

A second law, Regulation 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, established rules for compensation but also regarding the liability of airlines for damaged, lost, or destroyed mobility equipment.

Since 2016, EDF has cooperated  with Airports’ Council International (ACI Europe) on the Accessible Airport Award for the most accessible airport in Europe.

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Our work on rail transport policy

Regulation (EU) 2021/782 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations gives all passengers certain rights when traveling by train, including compensation in case of delay and cancellation. It also includes a specific chapter on the rights of passengers with disabilities and passengers with reduced mobility and particularly features the right to transport and the right to assistance.

Assistance shall be provided at no additional cost, notably during the boarding and alighting of the train and assistance in using facilities on board available for all passengers. Currently, the Regulation demands a maximum 24-hours’ notice period for assistance. Important information should also be provided to all passengers in accessible formats.

In case the mobility equipment of a disabled passenger is damaged, lost or destroyed, the passenger has the right to full compensation.

Our campaign for the revision of the Rail Passengers’ Rights Regulation (2016-2021)

In 2016, a revision of the text of the Regulation on Rail Passengers’ Rights was started. We took this opportunity to advocate for improvements in the text, notably to reduce the 48-hour pre-notification period which was set in the original text. See below relevant publications and milestones from this campaign, which is still on-going.

Rail accessibility 

Regulation 1300/2014 on the technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility of the Union’s rail system for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility (TSI PRM) is an important tool to make rail travel more accessible for persons with disabilities. The Specifications ensure that all new trains and certain stations will have to be accessible to persons with disabilities. EDF was involved in the revision process of the legislation 2011 – 2014 as part of a working group of the European Railway Agency, representing persons with disabilities as users of rail transport and it ensured important improvements of the Regulation. Following the publication of the revised law, EDF is now actively monitoring its implementation.

On 18 January 2018, EDF and AGE Platform Europe organized a webinar as an introduction to the EU rail accessibility legislation (TSI-PRM). A recording of the webinar as well as several supporting documents are available for information:


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Our work on road transport policy

Regulation 181/2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport completes the set of regulations covering passengers’ rights in all transport modes. It entered into force in 2013 and also includes provisions on accessibility for persons with disabilities. Similar to the air- and rail passengers’ rights Regulations it obliges operators to provide assistance.

However, one major shortcoming is that it only concerns cross-border services and certain domestic services above 250 km, thereby excluding many local and regional services which should also be made accessible. EDF is continuing its advocacy work for future improvement of these aspects and is actively monitoring the implementation with help of its members.

Concerning the accessibility of the vehicles, Regulation 661/2009 concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor lays down technical requirements for buses with more than 22 seats. Technical details are set out in UN Regulation No. 107 “Uniform provisions concerning the approval of category M2 or M3 vehicles with regard to their general construction”. This UN Regulation is referenced in Annex IV of Regulation 661/2009 is obligatory to be applied in the EU. The requirements contained in this UN Regulation are similar to those enshrined in the repealed Directive 2001/85/EC, but are more elaborated and updated. 

The requirements for technical devices facilitating access for passengers with reduced mobility as previously contained in Annex VII to the repealed Directive 2001/85/EC are now included in Annex 8 “Accommodation and accessibility for passengers with reduced mobility” to UN Regulation No 107.

Another important EU initiative to facilitate travelling for persons with disabilities is the EU Parking Card (Blue Badge) which was introduced in 2000 by a Recommendation of the Council of the European Union. This Parking Card allows persons with disabilities to park on disabled parking spaces anywhere in the EU if they display the card in their car. Even though recognized throughout the EU, the national authorities are still responsible for issuing the Card in each Member State.

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Our work on sea and river transport policy

Similar to the regulations on the rights of persons with disabilities travelling on the other transport modes, Regulation 1177/2010 concerning the rights of passengers travelling by sea and inland waterway now also covers this mode of transport.

Furthermore,  Directive 2009/45 on safety rules and standards for passenger ships also includes specific accessibility requirements for new passenger ships.