The European Blind Union is a non-governmental, non profit-making European organization founded in 1984. One of the six regional bodies of the World Blind Union, it is the only organization representing the interests of blind and partially-sighted people in Europe.
EBU aims to protect and promote the interests of all blind and partially-sighted people in Europe. Its objects and powers are set out in Article II of its Constitution. EBU currently has 41 member countries, each represented by a national delegation. Its work is directed by an Executive Board of 13 elected members who are accountable to a General Assembly held every four years.
The Central Office of EBU is based in Paris. It is responsible for communication within EBU and for information to the general public. It produces a monthly Members Newsletter in English, and a three-monthly Focus Newsletter in English, French, German and Spanish.
EBU provides a European platform for its membership to share views, expertise and information and to act together on matters of common interest.
The Annual Report looks in detail at the work carried out in the previous year.
Each EBU member organization is represented by a national delegation that participates in the EBU General Assembly held every four years.
The General Assembly of Members is EBU's supreme governing body. Some functions carried out at the General Assembly meetings include election of the board of officers, approval of constitutional amendments, (financial) reports on work carried out in the past mandate, strategic plans for the next four years.
The founding Assemblies of EBU and WBU were held in Norway, in August of 1984. Since then, another ten General Assemblies have taken place every three, and later every four years.
The last general assembly was hosted by the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted (UICI) in Rome, Italy, from 28-30 October 2019.
Resolutions passed at all EBU General Assemblies (pdf file)
The EBU is led by a board consisting of 5 officers (President, first and second vice presidents, treasurer and secretary general) and up to 8 ordinary members. They are elected by the EBU membership at the General Assembly for the period of four years. Board members are accountable to the General Assembly. All board members are blind or partially sighted.
The Board usually holds 3 to 4 face-to-face meetings a year. Detailed information about its composition, voting procedure, powers and functions can be found in the EBU Constitution.
The implementation of the EBU strategic plan is entrusted to project groups led by EBU national members and is monitored by the Board.
EBU Central Office
The EBU Central Office is based in Paris, France. It supports the Board and project groups in their work and is a central contact point for information to the EBU membership, partners, external parties and the general public.
EBU is a registered charity in France W751105073
The EBU Constitution is the governing instrument of EBU.
The key priorities and initiatives are articulated in the EBU Strategic Plan for the four year working period.
Discussed and approved by the EBU Board at its meeting held on 06 February 2021 online, (due to Corona virus), the Action Plan 2021 sets out actions to be conducted in 2021 to implement the Strategic Orientation Plan.
EBU Gender Equality Committee / Working Group Action Plan.
The United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is an important instrument in EBU work, take a look at our database on the application of the convention in different countries.
Our Finances in 2020
As it was for each of us in 2020, the life of the European Blind Union was significantly disrupted by the COVID pandemic, which forced all employees to work from home, and from March onwards meant that all face-to-face meetings were replaced by virtual conferences, which were slightly less effective but much less expensive.
The lockdown is therefore the sole reason for the surplus of €62,891.75 we have recorded for 2020, with some trips possibly only deferred until the situation allows us to resume normal life and have regular meetings again, as we have in the past.
We can note with a great deal of satisfaction that we remained within our budget estimates and that the few small variations were fully justified.
Additional expenses were as follows:
- the amount of fees that are 80% covered by the European Commission grant of €50,600 exceeded the budget by €7,000 and related mainly to document translation costs, expert fees, audit costs and periodic publications, proving that working from home has not slowed the pace of our activities;
- salaries, which amounted to €268,600, only exceeded our budget estimates by €5,600; it should be noted that the change of Director resulted in additional costs, such as the previous director’s retirement package and a period of training for his successor, during which the two directors worked together;
- -for the same reason, social security contributions (€105,280) were in deficit by €4,200;
- some changes to the Director’s office and the purchase of small items of equipment for staff working from home resulted in a twofold increase on the “small office equipment” account, which rose from €2,200 to €4,700;
- finally, charges for the previous year amounted to €16,200, broken down as follows: €7,700 for expenditure on the General Assembly at the end of 2019, which was recorded late; €5,000 for the grant given to the Louis Braille museum, which we omitted to pay last year; and €3,500 related to the Onkyo project for 2019.
The following savings were achieved:
- travel costs, which are paid in part from funds from the European Commission or covered by the European Blind Union, amounted to just €15,260 against a budget of €61,000;
- assistance granted from the Solidarity Fund was just €10,860 compared with an accepted budget of €25,000;
- we only spent €4,450 on the Pascal project compared with a grant received of €35,100, which we will no doubt need to use, at least in part, over the next few financial years, the cost recorded in our budget estimates being €9,100;
- awards and grants paid by us in relation to the Onkyo project were €1,200 lower than estimated;
- a total amount of €12,000 was not spent on various other accounts, such as services, conferences, accountancy fees, phone and internet costs.
Total expenditure was therefore €558,520.79 against an estimate of
All revenue shown in our budget estimates was received and there was even a small surplus in some areas:
- €8,800 for the Pascal project,
- €5,800 for the Onkyo project,
- €4,400 for contributions from members, whom I would like to thank most warmly for their prompt payments,
- €1,600 in additional sponsorship,
- €700 in additional interest on our investments.
Total revenues therefore amounted to €621,412.54 compared with an estimate of €601,400.
Given that our balance sheet is satisfactory and our annual financial statements are in a strong position, we could be tempted to further increase the activities of the European Blind Union by agreeing, among other things, to take part in new projects or increase the number of staff in our Paris office. We must, however, remain prudent and not forget:
- That 50% of our resources come from a grant from the European Commission, which is never a long-term certainty;
- That while new projects often bring in additional resources, we also need to finance part of them from our own funds, while they also create an additional workload for our employees, who are already very busy;
- That it remains very difficult to obtain new resources from sponsors, who are often approached by the association in their own country, which is an EBU member association that we cannot deprive of the revenue;
- That while our members are currently very prompt in paying their contributions, which is highly encouraging and a mark of trust in us, they do not appear ready to provide additional financing to support the Solidarity Fund, the Assistance for African Associations Fund or the Louis Braille museum.
- We should implement the recommendations we have received on improving our operations, try to act effectively and publicise it and remain confident that together, within the European Union or across Europe more widely, we can go even further to improve the situation of people who are blind or have a severe visual impairment.
The EBU Solidarity Fund.
The statutes of the new European Blind Union Solidarity Fund were approved by the EBU Board at its meeting in Paris on 29 October 2016.
This fund is intended to provide a mechanism for organisations of blind and partially sighted people to seek support/relief if they experience financial difficulties in, among others, paying their membership fees, developing projects, organising or participating in meetings.
For full details on the EBU Solidarity Fund and how to apply for assistance contact the EBU office