European Commission launches public consultation on a European Accessibility Act
21/12/2011 | 0 comments
The European Commission is reflecting on the development of a European Accessibility Act containing measures to improve the accessibility of goods and services in the European market.
This consultation is part of the preparatory data collection that will underpin the assessment of the impact of the measures. (An assessment of the possible effects of such an Accessibility Act is currently being conducted, following a Call for Tender).
Responses are invited from all citizens, including persons with disabilities and older people, enterprises and organisations of public and private sector as well as civil society in EU Member States, EFTA/EEA and candidate countries.
The closing date of the consultation is 29 February 2012.
Further information is available from the EU Consultation Website
The Commission has produced a document which presents the main considerations and arguments for a European Accesibility Act, "Public consultation with a view to a European Accessibility Act - background document"
- Download the document in PDF format from the right-hand panel.
The document introduces the need for a European Accessibility Act with a number of arguments, including the following:
"While the ageing of the population can raise the visibility of the market potential of products with good accessibility features in the most commercial areas, particularly health care, there are other areas where the economic potential is often overlooked by industry. Industry's response is limited and disabled persons do not benefit from the opportunities created by the single market as much as other citizens do. But also the myriad of national, regional and local accessibility rules and regulations does not make things easier for industry. These can de facto act as obstacles to the free movement of goods, persons and services in the EU and to potential economies of scale: there is no common playing field. Certain accessible goods marketed by European companies on non-EU markets, such as the US, are sometimes not available with the same accessibility features on the EU market due to the multitude of national regulations with which such goods should comply. Another consequence of the lack
of accessible goods and services is the creation of barriers to disabled people's economic, social and political participation in society." (Page 1).
The text goes on:
"The European Accessibility Act envisages improving at EU level, both from the demand and supply side, the markets for goods and services that are accessible for persons with disabilities and older persons. In summary, this initiative aims to respond to two main problems regarding the accessibility of goods and services in the EU2:
- Insufficient supply of accessible goods and services.
- Fragmentation of the EU market for accessible good and services.
The European Accessibility Act aims to be a business friendly initiative responding to the Europe 2020 Strategy's goals of promoting an industrial policy for the globalisation era, implementing the Digital Agenda, striving for smart regulation and proactively identifying solutions to reduce social exclusion of disabled persons, elderly and all those benefitting from
accessible goods and services."
Answer the Consultation
To send your answer to the European Commission, use the online questionnaire at the Consultation website:
Online opinion survey on accessibility
ENAT will give its opinion on the subject of a possible European Accessibility Act, based on input from its members and discussions with the ENAT Board. It will be important to consider the possible advantages of such an Act for businesses and for customers, as well as the scope of the act, the implementation measures and possible support actions which might be envisaged.
If you would like to contribute to the ENAT opinion, please send your comments to the ENAT Contact Page, by 15th February 2012.