In this constitution, blind and partially sighted people refers to blind and partially sighted people of different genders and of all ages.
The name of the organization shall be "European Blind Union" (EBU), representing all blind and partially sighted persons in Europe.
EBU is a non-governmental, non-profit-making organization, and is a regional union of the World Blind Union. It is registered in France under the laws of the French Republic.
The headquarters of EBU shall be in Paris, France, or at such place as may be decided by the Board.
In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions shall have the meanings hereby assigned to them:
"National member" has the meaning assigned to it by Section 2 in Article III of this Constitution.
"Organization" means an organization of the blind and/or partially sighted or an organization for the blind and/or partially sighted.
"Organization of the blind and/or partially sighted" means a body representative of blind and/or partially sighted people having a substantial number of members and with a majority of its membership consisting of blind and/or partially sighted persons, and having a governing body with a majority of blind and/or partially sighted persons elected by the membership at regular intervals.
"Organization for the blind and/or partially sighted" means a body established for providing goods, services and facilities for blind and/or partially sighted people whether or not some of its members or of its governing body are blind and/or partially sighted.
The official languages of EBU shall be English, French, German and Russian.
Unless otherwise agreed, the working language for meetings of the Board and of the Commissions shall be English.
The English version of this Constitution shall be the juridical version.
In the event of dispute, the provisions of this Constitution shall be interpreted according to the law of France.
The objects of EBU are:
1.1 To enable the blind and partially sighted people of Europe to join together to express their views and aspirations and take collective action, in accordance with democratically adopted decisions, to protect and promote their human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; to enhance their self-esteem and enable them to realise their full potential; and to represent their interests.
1.2 To promote the advancement of blind and partially sighted people, including those with additional disabilities, with the goal of achieving their equal rights as citizens and full participation in society, if necessary by special legal or administrative measures.
1.3 To provide a European forum for exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of blindness and partial sight.
1.4 To promote the prevention and cure of blindness and partial sight.
1.5 To strive for equal representation and participation of gender, age and blind/partially sighted persons in its activities and in the selection by National Members of delegations to the General Assembly, in elections to the Board and committees and in appointments to commissions, committees and working groups.
1.6 To co-operate with and support blind and partially sighted people and their organizations in countries outside Europe.
1.7 To seek to achieve equalisation of opportunities for all women and all men with disabilities, especially men and women who are blind or partially sighted, in all areas of life; to oppose and seek to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in all its forms; and to promote positive action to meet their needs whenever appropriate.
To achieve its objects, EBU shall have the following powers:
2.1 To foster and assist organizations working in the field of blind and partially sighted welfare throughout Europe.
2.2 To promote improvements in the living standards and quality of life of blind and partially sighted people throughout Europe, particularly in the fields of education, health, welfare, social security, rehabilitation, vocational training, employment, sports and recreation, culture, access to information, technology, mobility and transport and in any other field deemed expedient.
2.3 In collaboration with national members, to lobby national governments and other national and international organizations in support of policies and programmes benefiting blind and partially sighted people, and to advise and assist them in their implementation.
2.4 To provide for and encourage the exchange of information and experience between organizations of and for blind and partially sighted people and other bodies in Europe.
2.5 To encourage and carry out research in all fields of blindness and partial sight.
2.6 To collect and disseminate information on the conditions of blind and partially sighted people in Europe, and to promote enlightened attitudes towards them.
2.7 To provide necessary technical and material assistance to national members in furthering the objects of EBU.
2.8 To raise money to enable it to carry out its objects.
2.9 To hold land, maintain offices, employ staff and enter into contracts with third parties to enable it to pursue its objects.
2.10 To take any other action necessary to achieve the objects of EBU.
Membership shall consist of the following classes:
2.1 National Membership shall be open to an organization representing blind and/or partially sighted people in any country situated wholly or partly in Europe recognized as an independent state by the United Nations (such organization being referred to in this Constitution as "the national member"):
2.1.1 The national members at the time of the adoption of this provision shall be those which have been admitted by the Board and any future national member shall not become a national member until admitted by the Board.
2.1.2 If in any country more than one organization aims to represent blind and/or partially sighted people, those organizations shall form a consortium for that purpose, jointly being the national member for that country. The consortium shall, for all the purposes of this constitution, be the national member.
2.2 Each national member shall be represented by up to six delegates. The national member shall notify the Secretary General of the names and addresses of the persons who are from time to time delegates, and the Secretary General shall keep those names and addresses on a register which shall be available for inspection by any national member. A person shall be deemed to continue to be a delegate until he/she dies or notification that he/she has been replaced reaches the Secretary General. Without prejudice to the right of a national member to replace a delegate by giving notice as above, every national member shall notify the Secretary General of the names and addresses of its delegates not less than three months before the date fixed for the beginning of a General Assembly. Every notice given under these provisions shall be copied to the director of EBU Office.
2.3 Not less than fifty per cent of the delegates of any national member shall represent organizations of the blind and/or partially sighted in the country which the national member represents.
2.4 If in any country a dispute arises as to which organization or consortium of organizations should be its national member, the Board shall use its best endeavours to achieve a friendly settlement. In default of such settlement the Board shall decide which organization or consortium shall be the national member.
Honorary life membership may be conferred by the General Assembly on any individual (proposed by a national member or by the Board) who has rendered outstanding service either to EBU or to blind people in Europe. An Honorary Life Member shall be entitled to attend meetings of the General Assembly and the expenses of attendance shall be defrayed by EBU.
Associate membership may be conferred by the Board on any association or institution which subscribes to the objectives of the EBU, upon proposal by the National Member of the country of residence of the applicant. The Board shall report to the next General Assembly that it has conferred associate membership on a body. The General Assembly may then ratify or rescind the Board's decision. Until such ratification, such associate membership shall be provisional only
If the Board considers it appropriate, it may on behalf of EBU enter into a cooperation agreement with a country not eligible to become a national member of EBU And the cooperation agreement may confer such rights and impose such obligations as the Board may consider reasonable and necessary to meet the circumstances of the case:
Provided that the Board may not under this clause confer on a non-European country any right limited in this constitution to national members (including voting rights).
The General Assembly shall have the supreme control and superintendence of the affairs of EBU and shall have full power to take such action as in its discretion it thinks desirable in matters affecting the work and interests of EBU:
Provided that the General Assembly may not invalidate any action of the Board lawfully carried out by it.
The General Assembly shall consist of:
2.1 Up to six delegates from each national member, Provided that if a national member sends only two delegates to a General Assembly, they shall be of different genders; if it sends three delegates, one shall be of a different gender from the others; if it sends four or more delegates, at least two shall be of a different gender from the others and Provided that a delegate shall be a member or officer of the organization appointing him/her.
2.2 Honorary Life members.
2.3 Associate members.
2.4 Persons who are members of the Board immediately before commencement of the General Assembly.
Observers may, with the approval of a majority of the delegates of the national member representing the country where they reside, be invited to attend the General Assembly by the President or by the Board of EBU.
3.1 The President or his/her nominated substitute shall preside at meetings of the General Assembly.
3.2 An ordinary meeting of the General Assembly shall take place every four years.
3.3 An extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly may be convened by the President or by the Board or by one-third of the national members.
3.4 Notice of any meeting of the General Assembly shall be given to national members, honorary life members and associate members not less than three months before the date of the meeting.
3.5 Notice of any motion and its text which a national member desires to move at a meeting of the General Assembly must be sent to the Secretary General to reach him/her at least three months before the date of the meeting for him/her to distribute with the notice of the meeting.
3.6 Nominations for office which must be supported in writing by a majority of the delegates of the national member representing the country where the nominee resides must be sent to the Secretary General to reach him/her not later than three months before the date of the meeting.
3.7 The Secretary General shall not less than one month before the meeting send to each national member, honorary life member and associate member an agenda including Notices of Motion submitted to him/her under paragraph 3.5 above.
3.8 The President, after consulting the Board, may accept a Notice of Motion for debate which has not been sent to the Secretary General in accordance with paragraph 3.5 above if in his/her opinion the motion is of an urgent nature and delaying its debate might seriously prejudice the interests of the Union.
3.9 The President shall only accept a nomination moved at the General Assembly if such nomination is supported by the country where the nominee resides and if satisfied that such nomination is necessary to ensure that a vacancy is filled or that gender, age, blind/partially sighted balance is reached.
4.1 The General Assembly shall determine the general policies to be adopted by the EBU towards achieving its objects.
4.2 The General Assembly shall:
4.2.1 Consider, approve, reject or refer back the recommendations submitted to it by the Board.
4.2.2 Receive and consider the report of the Board on its work and reports of commissions on their work and the report of the Nominations Committee.
4.2.3 Consider and approve the Treasurer's Report and the Budget of the EBU.
4.2.4 Determine the rate of membership contributions.
4.2.5 Elect the Board, three members who, with the President or one of the Vice-Presidents, will represent the EBU on the Executive Committee of the World Blind Union, the Nominations Committee for the next succeeding General Assembly, and any ad hoc committee which the General Assembly considers it necessary to elect. All elections shall take place on the basis of nominations submitted by national members and the report of the Nominations Committee.
4.2.6 The Secretary General shall forward all nominations for office to the chair of the Nominations Committee, for consideration by it. In its report to the General Assembly the committee shall state whether or not nominations so forwarded comply with the provisions and conditions for nominations set out in Article IV, Section 3.6. In their deliberations they shall only take into account valid nominations.
4.2.7 Consider motions to the General Assembly.
4.2.8 Adopt and amend the Constitution of the EBU.
4.2.9 Decide on the dissolution of the EBU.
5.1 Representatives of 51 per cent or more of national members shall constitute a quorum for a meeting of the General Assembly.
5.2 Only national members and Board members are entitled to vote at meetings of the General Assembly. National members are entitled to six votes and may be represented by up to six delegates selected in compliance with article IV section 2.1. The national delegate or delegates present have the right to cast all six votes of the national member.
5.3 Except as provided by Article VIII, all questions shall be determined by a majority of the votes cast.
5.4 Voting may be by acclaim (viva voce), by roll call, by show of hands or, if twenty per cent of the delegates present so demand, by secret ballot. In the case of elections when there is more than one candidate for one office, voting shall be by secret ballot.
5.5 If there are more than two candidates for one office, and in a first or later ballot no candidate obtains an absolute majority of the votes cast, a further ballot or ballots shall be held in which the smallest number of candidates (starting with the candidate who topped the poll and proceeding one by one downwards) who together polled fifty percent or more of the votes in the preceding ballot shall participate until a candidate with an absolute majority emerges.
5.6 In the event of an equality of votes on a Notice of Motion, the President shall have the casting vote. In the event of an equality of votes arising in an election, the matter shall be decided by casting lots.
1.1 A Board shall be elected to serve from the conclusion of one General Assembly to the conclusion of the next General Assembly.
1.2 The Board shall consist of the President, a first and second Vice-President, Secretary General and Treasurer and up to eight Members.
1.3 At any meeting of the Board a majority of its members shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting business.
1.4 All members of the Board shall be eligible for re-election.
1.5 The President shall preside over the meetings of the Board and shall represent EBU on all occasions.
1.6 If the President is absent from a meeting of the Board, the first Vice-President or, in his/her absence, the second Vice-President, shall preside over it. In the absence of the President and both Vice-Presidents, a member elected by the Board shall preside over the meeting.
1.7 The President or the Board may invite any person to attend either one meeting or Board meetings generally.
1.8 If during a work period, an officer's position becomes vacant, the Board shall fill the vacant seat by appointing one of the ordinary Board members in office. In doing so, special consideration shall be given to improving the gender balance amongst the Board officers.
1.9 If, during a work period, a national member decides to withdraw its support of a Member of the Board and notifies such decision in writing to the Secretary General, or if a member of the Board submits his resignation in writing to the Secretary General, such Member of the Board shall forthwith vacate office.
1.10 Where a Board member has declared not being able to fulfil his/her duties, the Board may transfer his/her responsibilities to another Board member
1.11 No person shall be eligible for membership of the Board unless they are blind or partially-sighted.
2.1 The Board shall have power to do and authorize any action not specifically reserved for the General Assembly.
2.2 The Board shall be responsible for interpreting and carrying into effect the general policies of EBU.
2.3 Questions which in the opinion of the Board lie outside its powers may if the Board so decides be determined by a postal vote of all national members.
2.4 The Board may from time to time make, amend or revoke byelaws and/or standing orders for facilitating the carrying into effect of the provisions of this constitution and the policies adopted under it, but in the event of a conflict between the provisions of this constitution and such byelaws or standing orders, the provisions of this constitution shall prevail. Standing orders shall ensure fairness and transparency in voting procedures.
The Board shall meet at least twice a year at times and places to be determined by it. Any decision of the Board may be reached by a simple majority of the votes of those present and voting. Abstentions will be ignored when counting votes. In the event of an equal vote, the President shall have the casting vote.
4.1 The Secretary General shall ensure that proper minutes are kept of meetings of the General Assembly and of the Board.
4.2 The Secretary General shall ensure that all notices required to be given to members of EBU are properly given.
4.3 The Board shall prepare a job description setting out such additional duties for the Secretary General as it deems appropriate.
5.1 "Officers" means the President, the first and second Vice-Presidents, Secretary General and Treasurer.
5.2 Between meetings of the Board, the Officers may take decisions on issues requiring immediate action. The Officers may act by a majority vote and may either meet or reach their decision by telephone or correspondence. In the event of an equality of votes, the President shall have a casting vote.
5.3 All decisions and action taken by the Officers shall be reported to the next meeting of the Board.
The Board shall compose commissions, committees and working groups based on the expertise of nominees and bearing in mind the need for balanced representation of gender, age, degree of sight loss and geographical origin.
1.1 The Board may appoint such commissions as it deems necessary to carry out such duties as it may delegate to them.
1.2 The Board shall appoint a chair and vice-chair for each commission, as well as the members of the commission.
1.3 A commission may, subject to the approval of the Board, co-opt any person or persons who may be of help to them in discharging the duties delegated to them.
1.4 The Board may authorize any commission to raise money for the purpose of carrying out duties delegated to it and to expend the money in such a way as the Board may approve. In particular, the Board may permit a commission to hold and deal with funds which might otherwise have been held and dealt with by the Treasurer, but provided always that the commission will provide the Treasurer with accounts at the end of each calendar year showing what moneys have been received and how they have been expended. If the Board authorizes a commission to raise funds, it shall require the commission to seek the approval of the national member for any country in which the funds are to be raised, and not to raise funds without such approval.
The Board may appoint such committees as it deems necessary to carry out such duties as it may delegate to them.
The Board may appoint such working groups as it deems necessary to carry out such duties as it may delegate to them. It may approve the appointment by commissions of working groups for similar purposes.
The powers of commissions, committees and working groups shall be set out in guidelines and terms of reference prepared by the Board.
5.1 The Nominations Committee shall consist of a Chair and four other members, elected by the General Assembly.
5.2 If a member of the Nominations Committee wishes to seek election by the General Assembly to any office (other than membership of the Nominations Committee) he/she shall forthwith resign his membership of the Nominations Committee. Any vacancy in the membership of the Nominations Committee arising from such resignation shall be filled by the Board.
5.3 If it appears to the nominations Committee that there will not be enough nominations to fill the seats available in a way that ensures balanced representation in terms of gender, age, blind/partially-sighted and geographical origin, it may, on its own initiative, propose potential candidates for nomination by the national member in the countries where they reside. The decision to nominate shall ultimately rest with the national member concerned.
6.1 No later than three months before the date of the opening of the General Assembly, the Board shall appoint a Credentials Committee ("the Committee"), consisting of a Chair and not more than four other members. The Chair may be a member of the Board.
6.2 The Committee shall be responsible for informing the General Assembly, at its opening session, of the number of accredited national delegates present, and of the total number of votes which can be cast when voting takes place.
6.3 It shall advise the Board how to resolve disputes regarding:
6.3.1 The right of an individual to participate in EBU activities as a delegate of a national member (EBU activities includes attendance and voting at General Assemblies and any other activity which involves the exercise of the rights of a delegate).
6.3.2 What action the Board should take if the composition of a delegation does not comply with paragraph 2,1 of Article IV, Section 2 (gender balance).
6.4 The Committee will meet as and when its chair or the EBU President considers it necessary for it to do so. It may meet face-to-face or by telephone conference call, or may reach its decisions by email discussion. A quorum shall be three of its members. In case of an equality of votes the Chair shall have a casting vote.
6.5 If it appears to the Secretary General that it is likely that a delegation will not comply with paragraph 2.1 of Article IV, Section 2, he/she shall forthwith inform the Chair of the Committee. The Chair shall forthwith inform the person who appears to be the senior member of the delegation that there appears to be a breach of the gender balance provision, and will invite him/her to make representations on behalf of the delegation why sanctions should not be applied. The person so notified shall within fourteen days submit any representations the delegation wishes to make to the Chair of the Committee. The Chair shall forthwith circulate those representations to the members of the Committee. The Committee shall meet and decide whether or not it should advise the Board to impose sanctions.
6.6 In deciding what advice to give to the Board the Committee shall take account of all the circumstances of the case, including the representations made to it by the delegation and in particular the difficulties which may arise if all members of a delegation are not selected by one organization.
6.7 In giving its advice the Committee may propose that a delegation shall be deprived of one or more of its votes and how any remaining vote or votes should be distributed among the members of the delegation. It shall not advise any other sanction.
6.8 The Committee shall submit its advice to the Board in time for it to be considered at the meeting of the Board immediately before the opening of the General Assembly. The chair shall send a copy of the Committee's advice to the senior member of the delegation.
6.9 The Board may accept, modify or reject the Committee's advice. If it accepts or modifies the advice, it may impose the sanction as accepted or modified and give such consequential directions as may be appropriate. The Board's decision shall be final. It shall be notified to the senior member of the delegation concerned, and shall be reported to the General Assembly.
The financial year of EBU shall end on 31 December in any calendar year.
2.1 The membership contribution for any financial year shall be determined by the General Assembly based on objective criteria set by the Board. The membership contribution may also, under exceptional circumstances, be determined by the Board, for example when it establishes that a national member is not placed in the right contribution category and needs to be moved to another or to reduce the membership fee for a specific period of time. It shall be payable by no later than 30 June in that year.
2.2 Non-payment of contributions
2.2.1 If in any financial year a national member fails to pay its membership contribution, it shall explain the reason for non-payment and propose measures that will enable payment to be made as soon as possible. The Board may waive the payment of membership fees in exceptional circumstances such as in war or natural disaster situations.
2.2.2 If it appears to the Board at its meeting immediately before the opening of a General Assembly that a national member is in arrears with its contributions and that it has failed to provide satisfactory explanations for non-payment, the Board may deprive that national member's delegation of one or more of its votes at the General Assembly.
2.2.3 If it appears that a national member is persistently in arrears with its membership contributions, and if the explanation for non-payment is not credible or has led to no improvement, the Board may at any time deprive that member of its national member status. The Board's decision shall come into effect immediately thereafter but shall have to be confirmed by the next General Assembly based on a report by the Treasurer explaining the Board's decision.
It shall be the duty of the Treasurer at all times to keep proper books showing the income and expenditure of EBU (other than income and expenditure under the sole control of a Commission). Such accounts shall be audited annually by an auditor appointed by the General Assembly.
A statement showing the income and expenditure and balance sheet of assets and liabilities of EBU shall be published as soon as possible after the end of each financial year. The Board shall cause a copy of such accounts to be sent to each national member.
Between meetings of the Board the President may in exceptional circumstances authorise the payment of expenses out of EBU funds within a limit set by the Board.
The Board shall, so far as reasonably practicable, ensure that annual expenditure does not exceed annual income and that proper reserves are maintained to meet future contingencies:
Provided that nothing in this section shall prevent the Board from authorising expenditure in excess of income if the Board considers that such expenditure is in the interests of EBU.
The EBU shall give financial support in the form of loans, grants or other to national organisations of blind and partially-sighted people through its Solidarity Fund. Priority shall be given to projects submitted by EBU member organisations in need.
1.1 This Constitution may be amended at any meeting of the General Assembly.
1.2 Any proposal for a constitutional amendment must be in the hands of the Secretary General at least three months before the date of the meeting of the General Assembly at which it is to be moved.
1.3 Any amendment must be proposed by at least two national members or by the Board.
1.4 A motion proposing an amendment must be passed by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting at the meeting of the General Assembly. Abstentions shall be ignored when counting votes.
1.5 Any amendment shall come into operation at the time stated in the motion proposing it.
2.1 EBU may be dissolved at any meeting of the General Assembly.
2.2 Any proposal to dissolve the EBU must be in the hands of the Secretary General at least three months before the date of the meeting of the General Assembly at which it is to be moved.
2.3 A proposal to dissolve EBU may be made either by the Board or by at least ten national members.
2.4 A motion proposing the dissolution of EBU must be passed by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting at the meeting of the General Assembly. Abstentions shall be ignored when counting votes.
2.5 If so provided in the motion proposing the dissolution, three persons may be appointed to supervise the distribution of any surplus assets of EBU.
1.1 Meetings of the Board and of bodies it appoints may be face-to-face or by video link, tele-conference or other similar means. Written agendas and supporting papers, together with reports of proceedings, will be circulated as appropriate. Decisions of the board and of other bodies will be valid whatever method of holding the meeting is adopted.
1.2 Communications from and to the Board and to and from any body it appoints may be sent by pre-paid ordinary post, by fax, by electronic mail or by other similar means:
Provided that in the case of the use of fax, electronic mail or other similar means the recipient is assured of receiving it.
Any notice required to be given to an officer or member of the Union shall be properly given if sent by pre-paid post to his/her/their last-known address or by fax, by electronic mail or by other similar means:
Provided that in the case of the use of fax, electronic mail or other similar means the recipient is assured of receiving it.
3.1 Any document required to be executed by EBU shall be properly executed by being signed by the President.
3.2 Any document required to be executed by EBU in relation to its Office shall be properly executed if signed by the President or the Secretary General.
3.3 Any document relating to the bank account or investments of EBU shall be properly executed if signed by the President or the Treasurer. The Board may authorise other persons to execute documents relating to the bank account or investments of EBU.