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Procedure : 2022/2013(INI)
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Document selected : A9-0209/2022

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PV 04/10/2022 - 4
CRE 04/10/2022 - 4

Votes :

PV 04/10/2022 - 6.9

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Texts adopted
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Tuesday, 4 October 2022 - Strasbourg
AccessibleEU Centre in support of accessibility policies in the EU internal market

European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2022 on AccessibleEU Centre in support of accessibility policies in the EU internal market (2022/2013(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 19, 48, 67(4), 153, 165, 168 and 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 3, 21, 24, 26, 34, 35, 41 and 47 thereof,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its entry into force on 21 January 2011 in accordance with Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009 concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(1),

–  having regard to the general comments on the CRPD, drawn up by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as the authoritative guidance on its implementation, and in particular general comment No. 2 on Article 9: Accessibility, adopted on 11 April 2014,

–  having regard to the Code of Conduct between the Council, the Member States and the Commission setting out internal arrangements for the implementation by and representation of the European Union relating to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(2),

–  having regard to the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2 October 2015 on the initial report of the European Union,

–  having regard to the European Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry into how the Commission monitors EU Funds used to promote the right of persons with disabilities and older persons in independent living,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2021 entitled ‘Union of Equality: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030’ (COM(2021)0101),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426, ‘the anti-discrimination directive’) and Parliament’s position of 2 April 2009 thereon(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 June 2020 on the European disability strategy post‑2020(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2021/782 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2021 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations(5),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services(6) (European Accessibility Act),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies(7),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 establishing the European Electronic Communications Code(8),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2022/612 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 April 2022 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union (recast)(9),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade’ (COM(2021)0118),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)(10),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy – putting European transport on track for the future’ (COM(2020)0789),

–  having regard to the New Consumer Agenda (COM(2020)0696), that has amongst its five priorities the specific needs of certain consumer groups, amongst them, persons with disabilities,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC(11) (Public Procurement Directive),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2093 of 17 December 2020 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2021 to 2027(12),

–  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2018/254 of 15 February 2018 on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled(13),

–  having regard to the accessibility standards resulting from Commission mandates 376, 554, 420 and 473,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 181/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004(14),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004(15),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air(16),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91(17),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1300/2014 of 18 November 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(18),

–  having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A9-0209/2022),

A.  whereas persons with disabilities have equal rights on an equal basis with others in all fields of life and have the inalienable rights to dignity, equal treatment, independent living, autonomy and full participation in society, which benefits all levels of society;

B.  whereas more than 87 million people in the Union have some form of disability, and whereas the ageing demographic trend in the Union must be taken into account;

C.  whereas accessibility is an essential precondition for persons with disabilities to fully enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms; whereas according to Article 9 of the CRPD on accessibility, in order to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, state parties must take appropriate measures to ensure that they have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies (ICT) and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas;

D.  whereas Member States must ensure that accessibility becomes mainstreamed at all levels, not only in public buildings and transport, but also in health and education, as well as increasing mobility for and the integration of people with disabilities;

E.  whereas the CRPD defines ‘universal design’ as the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design and without excluding assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities; whereas accessibility is one of the CRPD’s general principles, and the EU and Member States are legally bound by the CRPD under Decision 2010/48/EC; whereas general comment No. 2 on the CRPD notes the obligation of state parties to adopt action plans and strategies to identify existing barriers to accessibility, set time frames with specific deadlines and provide both the human and material resources necessary to remove the barriers; whereas accessibility is crucial for persons with disabilities to enjoy the rights to privacy, non-discrimination, employment, inclusive education, political participation, and other rights enshrined in the CRPD;

F.  whereas local authorities play a crucial role in supporting Member States in the development of social policies, including policies on disability and accessibility, through the analysis of the needs on the ground and the implementation of specific measures;

G.  whereas ensuring high-quality and affordable assistive technologies will foster the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and benefit both persons with disabilities and the providers of these technologies, as well as society as a whole; whereas assistive technologies will help to reduce disparities among Member States and whereas these technologies can only work in accessible environments;

H.  whereas higher levels of employment of people with disabilities, greater accessibility and greater inclusion of this group in the workforce have clear economic potential;

I.  whereas the Union has established a comprehensive legal framework for accessibility in the internal market, notably with the adoption of specific accessibility legislation such as the European Accessibility Act, and including accessibility obligations in various pieces of sectoral legislation, including the EU funds regulations; whereas the European Accessibility Act, which will apply from 28 June 2025, will introduce significant new requirements in respect of accessibility for products and services;

J.  whereas the actual implementation of policies related to disabilities will contribute positively to the competitiveness of the EU’s internal market and therefore represents an integral resource for the EU economy;

K.  whereas the evaluation of the European disability strategy 2010-2020 showed that its contribution improved the situation in a number of areas, but also highlighted the fact that persons with disabilities still face considerable barriers to access to healthcare, education, transport, the built environment, ICT, employment and recreational activities, as well to participation in political life and other areas of life;

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘Union of Equality: European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030’ (the Strategy), whose aim is to ensure that all persons with disabilities in Europe are able to enjoy their rights, take part in society and in the economy under equal conditions and no longer be the subject of discrimination, addressing the considerable barriers highlighted in the evaluation of the European disability strategy 2010-2020;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiative, announced in the Strategy, to establish the AccessibleEU Centre (the Centre); acknowledges that the Centre aims to increase the coherence of harmonised accessibility policies, to support their implementation, and to facilitate access to relevant knowledge and skills, promoting a culture of equal opportunities and full participation in society for persons with disabilities, including at professional level, in a collaborative space between public administrations, business representatives, disability civil society, accessibility experts and users;

3.  Notes that greater accessibility outcomes in society can only be achieved if the Centre follows the ‘universal design’ approach; emphasises the need to ensure that this comprehensive approach to accessibility is duly taken into account, in particular concerning the physical environment, transportation, information, communication, services, and the area of public procurement contracts and tenders; considers that this approach also implies effective participation of all stakeholders and rights-holders in their proceedings;

4.  Highlights that the EU has established a comprehensive legal framework for accessibility in the single market based on the mandate of the CRPD, which includes, inter alia, the European Accessibility Act, the Web Accessibility Directive, directives on audiovisual media services and electronic communications, and technical specifications for railway stations and vehicles; recalls that aspects of this framework have implementation deadlines in the future and encourages further efforts towards achieving early implementation; regrets the fact that, where already required, the implementation of such crucial legislation varies widely across Member States and, in general, has not yet been satisfactory, mostly due to the lack of qualified accessibility experts; stresses, therefore, the need to improve the overall knowledge of, as well as practical and theoretical expertise on accessibility policies among public administrations, economic operators and society in general, in order to help find suitable, sustainable and affordable solutions in each Member State and thus improve the implementation of existing and forthcoming accessibility requirements; stresses in this context that the Centre should act as an important resource to provide such knowledge and support to Member States in the implementation phase;

5.  Acknowledges the establishment of ad hoc working groups for the implementation of certain accessibility legislation; believes, however, that the absence of a coordination and cooperation framework between the EU, the Member States, in particular public authorities monitoring or enforcing accessibility laws, and the relevant stakeholders that support cross-cutting solutions, namely persons with disabilities through their representative organisations, accessibility professionals and the private sector, represents a further obstacle to the implementation of accessibility laws and to their harmonised enforcement across the EU;

6.  Calls on the Commission to ensure adequate resources, both in terms of funding and human resources, for the establishment and functioning of the Centre; calls on the Member States to ensure the resources needed for the implementation and enforcement of accessibility policies, including through EU funds; stresses that sufficient funding is imperative for the pursuit of effective public policies on accessibility, as well as for achieving progress on a wide range of topics such as raising awareness through communication actions, in particular towards organisations representing persons with disabilities, recognition of invisible disabilities and harmonisation of national disability cards or accessibility standards;


7.  Calls on the Commission to establish a secretariat and a forum to steer and lead the work of the Centre; underlines that the forum should guarantee the balanced participation of stakeholders from the public and private sectors and right-holders with suitable experience in the field of accessibility; stresses that gender balance should be ensured; underlines that the participation of organisations representing persons with disabilities must be ensured as an essential part of the Centre’s work, in order to ensure the highest possible level of transparency concerning its activities; believes that the Centre should publish an annual work programme and should include in the forum representatives among the Members of the European Parliament;

8.  Highlights the specific challenges posed by particular domains of accessibility policies, such as built environment, public procurement, digital technologies, media and culture, transportation, emerging technologies and assistive technologies, and products and services open to the public; calls on the Commission to establish specialised sub-groups of experts for certain areas; is convinced that these groups should work closely with the Centre, the Member States, persons with disabilities and organisations representing persons with disabilities, in order to guarantee better assessment, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of accessibility-related legislation;

9.  Calls on the Member States to establish national accessibility hubs, which could comprise of contact points and mirror groups of experts to work hand in hand with the Centre on implementing, monitoring and enforcing accessibility legislation; is of the opinion that the national accessibility hubs should facilitate exchange and coordination among relevant stakeholders and rights-holders, including economic operators, organisations of persons with disabilities and national authorities responsible for accessibility and the implementation of sectoral legislation; is convinced that the subject matter experts of the Centre should provide guidance and training to all relevant stakeholders; believes that such groups could help to find accessibility solutions which take into account the national specificities;


10.  Believes that the Centre should function as a hub which provides relevant EU institutions and bodies and its Member States when implementing Union law with regular assistance and expertise relating to accessibility policies and technical requirements; believes that the Centre should establish and coordinate a cooperation framework that would bring together the relevant national and Union bodies with all user groups, in particular organisations representing persons with disabilities, civil society organisations, academia, companies and professionals from all areas of accessibility and consumer rights, in order to support harmonised implementation and enforcement across the EU, provide guidance and training, and to inspire policy developments and innovation at national and EU level, including through the identification and sharing of best practices across sectors, as well as through the creation of tools aiming to facilitate the implementation of Union law; believes moreover, that the Centre could enhance the collaboration between the above-mentioned bodies and organisations with highly innovative stakeholders, in order to promote the development of assistive technologies; considers that the Centre should also provide advice, including guidelines, to relevant EU institutions and bodies and its Member States on their internal accessibility policies and practises;

11.  Stresses the potential benefits of the Centre in supporting the Commission’s work, inter alia identifying and helping overcome gaps and inconsistencies in current legislation, providing policy recommendations for updating and developing accessibility laws, mainstreaming accessibility in all relevant policies under the responsibility of different Directorates-General of the Commission, including by identifying priority areas where accessibility should be improved, conducting projects that explore innovative ways to implement accessibility, assisting in drafting technical accessibility specifications, and helping EU agencies and bodies with accessibility-related matters;

12.  Is of the opinion that the Centre should generate valuable knowledge on accessibility through the use of research and studies, which it should provide to both the Commission and the Member States, and that it should collect and consolidate specialised and comparable information and fully accessible data, including feedback on the implementation of accessibility laws; highlights that these actions would help accessibility policies to be solidly based on users’ requirements and experiences; stresses that the Centre should help to address gaps in the collection of statistical data at national level on the situation of persons with disabilities and that cooperation with the relevant statistical bodies, in particular Eurostat, should be envisaged;

13.  Considers that the role of the Centre would be essential in providing the Commission and the Member States, stakeholders and right-holders with knowledge and support for the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of accessibility policies, including through training and guidance documents in all EU official languages and written in accessible, understandable and easy-to-read language;

14.  Stresses that the Centre should help to overcome inconsistencies between the CRPD and EU policies, and should thereby help Member States in achieving the primary goal of increasing employment levels among persons with disabilities; points out that this mainstreaming activity needs to involve the EU and the Member States also through close cooperation with organisations representing persons with disabilities and other civil society organisations, public authorities, and the private sector;

15.  Notes that implementing accessibility policies requires a high degree of technical expertise and is not sufficiently included in higher education programmes, thus contributing to a lack of qualified accessibility experts in the public and private sectors across domains; stresses that the Centre should support Member States in developing dedicated education programmes for accessibility-related matters and should provide training to professionals, EU and national public officials as well as relevant stakeholders and right-holders in order to increase awareness on these issues;

16.  Regrets that the standardisation system does not adequately allow persons with disabilities and their representative organisations to participate on an equal footing with other stakeholders in the activities of European and national standardisation bodies when drafting accessibility standards; calls, therefore, for improved representation within the standardisation system and for balanced representation among designated experts, in order to guarantee a fair outcome of the Union’s accessibility legislation and standards; considers that the Centre should play a significant role in the standard-setting system and could provide expertise to the Commission when the Commission is participating in the work of the standardisation committees, including through the provision of advice from the standardisation experts of organisations representing persons with disabilities, and, where possible, assist the Commission in drafting technical specifications and requests for European standards and deliverables in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012(19), including through the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and right-holders; believes that the involvement of the Centre would bring clear benefits to persons with disabilities with regard to movement around the EU and would empower them to enjoy their right to work, live and travel freely;

17.  Calls on the Commission to conduct an assessment within five years of the creation of the Centre to evaluate its effectiveness and added value in enhancing accessibility policies within the EU; underlines that on the basis of this assessment, the Commission should take appropriate steps to update and improve the Centre, including evaluating the possibility of establishing an agency if the objectives listed in its mandate are not accomplished; calls on the Commission to monitor the work of the Centre and its achievements through yearly reports to be presented to Parliament;

o   o

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

(1) OJ L 23, 27.1.2010, p. 35.
(2) OJ C 340, 15.12.2010, p. 11.
(3) OJ C 137 E, 27.5.2010, p. 68.
(4) OJ C 362, 8.9.2021, p. 8.
(5) OJ L 172, 17.5.2021, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, p. 70.
(7) OJ L 327, 2.12.2016, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 321, 17.12.2018, p. 36.
(9) OJ L 115, 13.4.2022, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.
(12) OJ L 433 I, 22.12.2020, p. 11.
(13) OJ L 48, 21.2.2018, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 1.
(15) OJ L 334, 17.12.2010, p. 1.
(16) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 1.
(17) OJ L 46, 17.2.2004, p. 1.
(18) OJ L 356, 12.12.2014, p. 110.
(19) Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on European standardisation (OJ L 316, 14.11.2012, p. 12).

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