In a meeting of 25 June organised by the Unit of the Audiovisual Industry and Media Support Programmes at DG CNNECT of the European Commission to update civil society organisations on the diversity and inclusiveness policy development and support activities for 2021 and beyond, the Commission informed us that diversity strategies will be evaluated and rewarded, but for the first year they want to learn what is already in practice, as a stock-taking exercise in view of a 2022 monitoring report.
The feedback collected from our members in the EU, on the audio description practice of national film funding agencies, will be useful in that perspective. It still needs to be analysed.
We have started to prepare the ‘right of access to culture’ component of the PARVIS project, in particular our related awareness-raising Twitter campaign in September 2021, which connects to our campaign to promote responsible funding to the film industry.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have now notified the European Economic Area Joint Committee that they have fulfilled the constitutional requirements, which makes that committee’s decision binding under Art. 103 of the EEA Treaty. The next step for these countries is to deposit their instrument of ratification. However, this will only be a formal step because, as members of the EEA, the three countries are part of the European Union internal market with respect to copyright issues and must therefore implement EU directives and regulations relating to copyright, including the Marrakesh Treaty, in their laws.
We have asked our members in Armenia, Turkey and Ukraine to let us know about the state of play toward their countries joining the Treaty.
On 7 July we attended an online WIPO conference on SDGs and the Marrakesh Treaty.
Accessible lifts and other standards
In July, we urged our member organisations to contact their national standardisation bodies and express support for the position of ANEC (the consumers’ voice in EU standardisation) on the technical revision of the Accessibility to lifts standard EN 81-70:2018. This position is to vote in favour of the technical revision of that standard (EN 81-70:2021/prA1) – following a successful ANEC appeal and subsequent work, within the relevant working group of CEN, in which EDF and EBU were closely involved by ANEC – which now provides for satisfactory colour contrast requirements.
The finalisation of the revision is due to take place in early September. On 22 July, the EBU President wrote to the president of the European Lift Association (ELA) about this revision, to ask for their support in that perspective. ELA replied that “(it) supports the approval of the document. However, each national mirror committee must make its own decision based on the principle of neutrality.” This feedback was shared with ANEC, who finds it a promising reply given ELA’s influence on many national mirror committees.
Reform of EU electoral law
An own-initiative proposal is currently being debated in the European Parliament that would further harmonise the electoral system and procedure applicable to European elections. The Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (AFCO) is responsible for this file. The draft report includes “an obligation for Member States to ensure physical and sensorial access to polling stations, especially for persons with disabilities”, but it could be more ambitious as far as accessibility is concerned. The deadline for tabling amendments is in September. We are liaising with EDF about this and have contributed comments to their still very draft proposed amendments, based on our AVA project output report “Accessibility of Elections for Blind and Partially Sighted Voters in Europe”.
On 17 July we were informed by the European Commission that the Study assessing the implementation of the pilot action on the EU Disability Card, written by Ernst and Young, was finally published. It can be found here. An accessible version will be published in due time.
We contributed comments (in July) to EDF’s draft position paper on disability assessment procedures, and (in August) to its draft position paper on artificial intelligence.
In July the European Economic and Social Committee adopted its opinion on the new EU Disability Rights Strategy. It welcomes it as a clear step forward compared with the previous one, yet expressing concern about the lack of binding measures and hard legislation implementing the Strategy.
In August we responded to a European Commission public consultation about a potential social taxonomy (as there is already an EU environmental taxonomy). The idea is to have a set of criteria to ensure that social objectives and principles are met by public authorities as well as private investors. Our response was essentially to duplicate the EDF response and thereby increase the visibility of disability-related concerns.