On September 14, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in plenary session on the proposed amendments to the EU Accessibility Act. The Parliament adopted its final position before starting the negotiations with the Council.
The final report was adopted by 537 MEPs in favour, 89 abstentions and 12 against. Parliament’s plenary gave the rapporteur of the Accessibility Act, MEP Morten Lokkegaard, the mandate to start the negotiations with the Council of the European Union as soon as possible.
Here is a short update on the five top priorities campaigned for by Autism-Europe alongside the European Disability Forum (EDF):
- Applicability of the Accessibility Act to other Union acts such as public procurement or the EU Structural Funds (Article 1(3)): This point was adopted and its scope was also widened compared to the European Commission’s initial proposal; now all EU legislation mentioning accessibility should be aligned with the accessibility requirements of the Accessibility Act.
- Adoption of a strong, binding clause on the built environment (Article 3 (10)): This point was adopted meaning that the accessibility requirements of the Accessibility Act will apply not only on products and services but also on the built environment around them, e.g. not only a cash machine should be made accessible, but also the building of the bank in which the cash machine is in. However, this applies only to new and renovated buildings concerning banking, telephony and transport services.
- Application of accessibility requirements by microenterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (Art. 12): This point was rejected. Microenterprises will be excluded from the Act and they won’t have to make their products and services (such as e-commerce and e-books) accessible. Concerning Small/Medium Enterprises, they should notify the authorities in case their products and services are not accessible.
- Transport accessibility: There were some improvements, but some important demands on the definitions were rejected. That means that important modes of transport, such as metros, trams, or local buses, are still excluded from the Act. However, the transport requirements in the Annex I were improved compared to the initial report by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) and it was confirmed that the main transport accessibility requirements will stay in the Act.
- Inclusion of sector-specific accessibility requirements in Annex I: In this point, there were some improvements.
Autism-Europe, together with EDF, will take the time to examine the amendments and the final text and come back with a thorough analysis.