Latest campaign and EU updates

Creative Europe/MEDIA

We are still expecting an announced letter of reply from the competent unit at the European Commission’s DG CNECT, to our letter of 16 January on the MEDIA Work Programme for 2021 and beyond. We await this reply to engage with the unit, whose interlocutors on our issues we have already identified. The EBU Access to Culture group was brought up to speed on advocacy developments and the grounds set for their collaboration in the campaign.

Marrakesh Treaty

On 20 January Bosnia and Herzegovina ratified the Treaty.

The EFTA Secretariat informed us that the EEA EFTA States hope to join the Treaty by the end of 2021. Contact was established with the relevant CNECT unit, and we had a meeting with them on 24 February to discuss the timeline for bringing the Marrakesh Treaty Directive into the national legislation of EFTA countries – a separate and parallel process. We learned that the deadline for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to table draft implementing legislation is April 2021, and that they aim to have the legislation adopted by the end of the year.

Important related development: on 12 February, DG CNECT launched a public consultation to gather information whether it is necessary to extend the Marrakesh Treaty Directive provisions to more (i.e. non-print) works and more types of disabilities in Europe. We are preparing a response to this consultation. This investigation is an obligation under Article 9 of the directive.

Accessible voting

On 29 January, the Bureau of the European Parliament's Disability Intergroup met to decide political priorities for 2021. Among these, noteworthy is the right to vote. This connects well with our goal to have an EP resolution on accessible European elections calling for the amendment of the 1976 Electoral Law in line with the UNCRPD and the EESC opinion.

EU Disability Rights Strategy.

The European Commission is expected to present the new Strategy for 2021-2030 on 3 March. We are preparing our reaction, in liaison with the European Disability Forum.

We will be looking with particular interest, inter alia, at what the Strategy says about accessible voting, the Equal Treatment Directive, the EU Disability Card and the collection of statistical data on disability.

Equality in employment

On 27 January the Employment and Social Affairs committee (EMPL) of the European Parliament approved the own initiative resolution on the implementation of the Equality in Employment Directive in light of the UNCRPD. There appears to be a strong consensus at the EP on this initiative.

As slightly amended, the text is even closer to our positions on two matters which we thought were being approached too negatively by the rapporteur and other stakeholders: sheltered workshops and fines when employers fail to respect diversity quotas.

The Plenary vote is forecast on 27 May.

European Accessibility Act implementation

On 11 February we participated in the first of a series of "Peer support online meetings" on the implementation of the EAA, organised by EDF. Our efforts to accompany this focus on two specific areas:

  • E-books: on 9 February we had another meeting, together with EDF, with the Federation of European Publishers and Fondazione LIA, to discuss technical specifications (i.e. whether  ePub3 format can be unequivocally recommended to publishers) and future collaboration (at national level and involving national administrations) toward achieving the broadest accessibility of e-books.
  • Payment terminals: on initiative of our Dutch member, who formerly led our Pay-Able campaign, the setting up of a taskforce to make technical recommendations for accessible payment terminals, is being considered.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In the fall of 2020 we had been consulted by the Eurostat unit of the Commission about the review of the SDG indicator set.

We received a reply from them in January, essentially to recognise the need to track groups at high risk of social exclusion and that Eurostat currently does not collect data disaggregated by disability, and to say that including additional breakdowns, like disability data for the indicators we suggested, requires further consideration and research, considering the availability of data itself and the availability of long time series for each Members State. Our suggestions are kept on hold and will be revisited for the next review round, the reply indicates.

We reacted on 4 February, to insist that Eurostat should start to collect data disaggregated by disability, to allow a well-informed EU policy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, and that to begin with, this could be only in some priority areas – e.g. employment – and not every year, but that progress is now urgently needed in this area.

Looking at the next review at this point, we asked to integrate for example the Washington Group Short Set of Questions into the surveys Eurostat and the national statistics offices use for data collection for this purpose.