Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
The Commission attaches great importance to removing barriers to the freedom of movement for persons with disabilities, including visually impaired people using guide dogs. Accessibility is a key priority of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(1).
On 11 June 2012 the Commission published interpretative guidelines on the application of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air. These guidelines contain a section on guide and assistance dogs. In addition, the regulations on passenger rights travelling by rail, waterborne transport, and bus or coach all contain specific provisions on disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, including blind people and guide dogs. The Commission will closely monitor the application of the waterborne and coach passenger right Regulations as soon as they are applicable in the next months.
Presently, the Commission has no plans for harmonisation of the recognition of guide dogs. However, the Commission is supporting the European Guide Dog Mobility Standards (EGDMS) project(2), a research undertaking which may present conclusions and recommendations on this subject. The EGDMS project is expected to be finished by the end of 2012.
The Commission has also concluded a three year partnership agreement with the European Guide Dog Federation(3) (EGDF) in the frame of which EGDF receives a subsidy of its operating costs. The Commission will consult the EGDF and other relevant civil society organisations prior to planning any further steps in this area.