On 15 December, a political agreement was reached between the European Parliament and EU Member States on the new Creative Europe programme for 2021-2027, after over a year of interinstitutional discussions on the Commission’s proposal – delayed partly due to the COVID19 pandemic. In a press release welcomed the agreement in that it largely responds to our demands in our position paper of September and our advocacy. In substance:
- A new general clause in Article 3 of the Regulation, on the objectives of Creative Europe, says that the objectives of Creative Europe shall be pursued in a way that encourages inclusion, equality, diversity and participation; and that where appropriate, this shall be achieved through specific incentives that ensure that inter alia people with disabilities can access the culture and creative sectors, and encourage their active participation in those sectors, including both the creative process and audience development.
- More directly related to our campaign targeted at the MEDIA part of Creative Europe and our demand for more accessible films, Annex I says that activities through which the MEDIA priorities should be pursued include support for subtitling, dubbing and audio description.
The new Creative Europe Regulation provides a good basis for our continued campaign from 2021 onward, where we will be looking at how EACEA, the EU executive agency that manages the MEDIA funding, puts the Regulation into practice as far as our demands are concerned.
We learned that Armenia ratified the Treaty, but are still waiting for official confirmation from WIPO, or confirmation from our member in Armenia.
All eyes on Turkey and Ukraine now, while Western Balkans country are already in a positive dynamic and the non-EU European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) are expected to bring the implementing EU law into their national legislation without further delay.
On 15 December, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted by unanimity, and without any abstention, an opinion about the need to guarantee real rights for persons with disabilities to vote in European Parliament elections. This follows up the EESC 2019 report on the real right of persons with disabilities to vote in the European Parliament elections, which described the legal and technical barriers preventing persons with disabilities from voting in the European Elections. The opinion calls for a revision of the European electoral law of 1976.
Equality in employment
On 3 December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the European Parliament’s Research Service published a study on the implementation of the Employment Equality Directive in light of the UN CRPD, in support of the ongoing Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) committee implementation report. The study places a particular focus on reasonable accommodation, positive action, sanctions and equality bodies, and also to employment-related data regarding persons with disabilities.
In EMPL, ongoing negotiations are going well, with minor resistance (namely on intersectional approach or positive actions).
Two out of the expected three committees have already delivered their opinions: the Womens' Rights and Gender Equality Committee and the Petitions' Committee.
Voting in EMPL expected to take place at the end of January 2021.
The Chair of CEN/TC 10/WG 7, the EU standardisation body’s working group that is revising the accessible lifts standard, confirmed that one meeting day in 2021 will be dedicated to issues of concern to BPS, with ANEC to liaise with EBU for this, and that input will be collected ahead of that meeting. The next meeting (2-3 February) will focus on finalising the contrast of operating buttons issue.
Consultations by the European Commission
- On December 1st and 16th respectively, we participated in the EU workshops on the evaluation of EU Regulation 181/2011 (passenger rights in bus and coach transport) Regulation 1177/2010 (passenger rights in waterway transport), which focused on the needs of persons with reduced mobility.
- We responded to the online consultation on the new EU strategy on rights of the child (2021-2024).
We participated in the European Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020 conference (1-2 December), online this year. The conference was two-fold:
- To report on the evaluation of the currently ending EU Disability Strategy (see our previous Newsletter) and to provide a last moment of dialogue on the future Disability Rights Strategy – as it will now be called – expected to be adopted in the first quarter of 2021. We expressed our impression that we and other DPOs were well and widely heard on the orientations of the future EU disability policy, but less so on the necessary institutional arrangements to mainstream disability in EU policy;
- To discuss the impact of COVID-19 impact on persons with disabilities. We advertised our own position paper: "Making the 'new normal' inclusive for all. Some key lessons to be learned from the crisis, the perspective of blind and partially sighted people".
The conference was followed, as usual, by the Access City Award (2021), which we followed and echoed on Twitter with great interest.
- We were invited by the International Transport Forum organisers to online consultation meeting on 10 February, for stakeholders to contribute in shaping the ITF summit 2021 programme, in Dublin in May. Our Road Safety and Accessibility of Transports experts are being consulted to prepare for this.
- We helped circulate as widely as possible the EDF survey on the implementation of the Web Accessibility Directive, via Twitter and within our organisation.