We are close to finalising a position paper on Braille in the 21st century, based on the output of the Braille Working Group.
As the EU Council continues stalling on the proposed reform of the EU electoral law, we used the opportunity of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s annual report - which points out, as one of various concrete steps toward better implementation of the UN CRPD by the EU, the European Parliament’s proposal for a more inclusive EU electoral law -to call on the EU Council to respond positively to this without further delay, before the 2024 European elections.
After finalising the EBU statement on European elections 2024, we have started to prepare the outreach campaign that will build on it, before and after the elections.
We had exchanges with our Albanian and North Macedonia member organisations about the Marrakesh Treaty, of which it results that we will be looking at ways for EBU to directly support their advocacy at national level after the summer recess. Both countries’ governments appear to think that their national legislation is sufficient and makes it unnecessary to join the Treaty. We responded and, as invited to do by the Commission’s designated consultancy (Visionary Analytics, Lithuania), we circulated it to our members in the EU, for participation, with pointers to crucial questions and recommendations for response.
After receiving through the EU Disability Platform Poland’s non-paper on the future European Disability Card, we called our Polish member and other members possibly also concerned, to lobby their government and parliament to sensitise them to our rationale for calling for a card that will also be useful for visually impaired citizens who settle in another EU country; i.e., to facilitate a smooth transition, in equal treatment with nationals of the host country, before their disability status is assessed from scratch there.
The European Commission has decided to send reasoned opinions to Bulgaria, Ireland, Cyprus, the Netherlands, and Poland for failing to notify their measures to transpose the European Accessibility Act into their national law. These five Member States have now two months to respond and take the necessary measures. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
From the Swedish EU Presidency event “A Union of Equality: Disability Rights and Strategies”, organised on 27 June in connection with the EU Disability Platform plenary, we particularly noted the following:
- The European Commission’s DG EMPL representative designated as two main targets, in the implementation of the EU Disability Strategy, the closing of the disability employment and higher education gaps, pointing out however that it is for the Member States to define the targets. She confirmed that the guidelines for accessible elections were on track, in the wake of European elections 2024.
- On this last point, in the afternoon session on participation in political and public life, the representative of DG JUST recalled that the Commission set up an EU Cooperation Network on Elections, and that it is preparing Guidelines on good electoral practice, including accessibility issues. Civil society organisations will have the opportunity to provide input in October - EBU intends to.
- Interestingly, the Election Watch EU representative underlined that there is no central European elections management system and that therefore advocacy was to be carried out at national level, but the EU should foster best practices. He also said that the leverage of public funding to political parties should be used, as they should be held accountable for their own responsibilities in the matter.
On July 10th, representatives of the European Central Bank visited our offices. During the meeting, they gave us the chance to test possible braille labelling for Euro notes. In line with other conversations that we had with the ECB in the past, this is one feature to be considered when redesigning the next generation of Euro notes, thus allowing blind and partially sighted persons to use cash more confidently. Tactile improvements of the future Euro notes are important to allow visually impaired people to choose the way in which they prefer to make transactions.
On 4 July, a delegation of the European Blind Union attended the launch event of the new AccessibleEU resource centre at the European Union’s Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. For further information, see the dedicated article.