On 23 March, we participated in the EU Disability Platform’s subgroup on the Disability Employment Package. Member States were invited to present their approaches on the setting of targets. Our message to them in that context was to connect to the Disability Employment Gap indicator for the EU Social Scoreboard (cf. Eurostat metadata structure, which adopts a functional limitations, not medical, approach). We also asked them to eventually distinguish between sheltered employment and employment in public sector, social economy and business economy, and also recalled our ask to disaggregate per type of disability.
The draft EBU document “Guidance on reasonable accommodation for visually impaired employees and applicants” was sent to our members, for comments and input by 15 April, to our working group “Rehabilitation, Vocational Training and Employment” for elaboration. This work will also enable our reaction to the draft guide on reasonable accommodation that the European Commission is scheduled to present to the EU Disability Platform’s subgroup on the Disability Employment Package on 11 May.
On 21 March, together with EDF, we were invited by MEP Tomasz Frankowski, rapporteur of an own-initiative report, to present to the CULT committee of the European Parliament in a consultation meeting with stakeholders, the EBU issues regarding “the future of the European book sector”. While EDF essentially spoke about the implications of the European Accessibility Act (e-books), we addressed, Creative Europe funding and the Marrakesh Treaty. We asked the European Parliament:
to invite the Commission to use the opportunity of the mid-term review of the Creative Europe regulation 2021-2027, to consider introducing some benchmarking in the regulation on how funding is used to promote inclusion, and in particular accessible-format books for blind and partially sighted people, and
to support our view that compensation schemes should be dropped, in the context of the announced evaluation by the Commission of the Marrakesh Treaty Directive, evaluation to take place likely in 2024.
In the CULT committee meeting of 27 March, the rapporteur presented his initial ideas for his report, and he appears to support our call concerning Creative Europe funding. It seems unlikely, instead, that our message regarding the Marrakesh Treaty will be taken on, because CULT is not competent for the author-rights side of things. We will see if we can take it up with the JURI committee.
Regarding the Marrakesh Treaty, we are waiting for confirmation from our member in North Macedonia that their country has still not joined the Marrakesh Treaty (even if they already have legislation in place that partly implements its principles).
On 22 March, we participated very actively in a half-day workshop organised by Ernst & Young and other partners in consulting for the European Commission, aimed at supporting the impact assessment of the future EU initiative introducing the European Disability Card. This was an excellent opportunity to push our recommendations, and in particular one idea of ours which – even if not within the scope of the consultants’ mission – is picking up momentum with other DPOs, i.e.: that the card should concern, beyond travellers and consumers, also workers, trainees or students who move to another EU country, where their disability status needs to be recognised in that context for equal treatment. We argue that the card should facilitate the transition while undergoing a “re-assessment” process in the host EU country.
We are still waiting for input for our response to the ongoing public consultation by the European Commission (deadline: May).
We contributed an Op-ed piece on the Disability Card initiative for the magazine Social Europe.
On 28 March, we were invited by the European Commission’s DG MOVE to speak at their High Level Group of Experts on Road safety, to present our priority issues on the matter. We focused our intervention on the remaining issues around silent vehicles and AVAS, and our recommendations for driverless vehicles, as laid out in our position paper of September 2022I. We also mentioned our concerns (albeit without a position on these yet) about the dangers for visually impaired pedestrians of shared spaces (also referred to as mixed traffic area) and the new forms of urban mobility.
On 7 March, we attended another open meeting of the EDF Web Accessibility Initiative Communities of Practice (WAI-CooP) project, focusing this time on the feedback mechanism and complaints procedure of the Web Accessibility Directive. For more on this topic, see the separate article in this newsletter.