S&D Euro MPs in the internal market committee today abstained on new rules to facilitate access to electronic products and services for people with disabilities due to their lack of ambition.

S&D Group negotiator Olga Sehnalová said:

”The Socialists and Democrats are working very hard to improve the accessibility of products and services such as computers, telephony services, and self-service terminals for people with disabilities across Europe.

“It is a matter of general interest and we can’t apply double-standards. Currently, there are 80 million disabled persons in the EU. Their number could reach 120 million by 2020 due mostly to the aging of the population in Europe.

“While the S&Ds made some headway in the negotiations, we cannot accept that the original proposal by the Commission is watered down. Thus, we will do our utmost to improve the compromise once the Parliament votes on the proposal in the plenary.

“We believe that the new rules should benefit people with all forms of disabilities and should also make a positive difference to people with functional limitations, including for the elderly. For instance, we consider that it would be pointless to install a new ATM machine without facilitating access to it with a ramp. We will push to make accessibility of built environments mandatory in all member states.

“We also cannot support general exemptions. The rules of accessibility should apply to microenterprises when the costs are reasonable and requirements do not cause a disproportionate burden to them.”

S&D Group spokesperson on the internal market Nicola Danti added: 

“We are not ready to give up on the principle that people in the EU with disabilities and with functional limitations should have the possibilities to fully and actively participate in a fairer society. Today we are also living in a fast changing digitalised environment which poses many challenges; the S&D Group is a strong advocate of a more inclusive digital society and it is our job to ensure that all citizens regardless of their age, location and physical ability have full access to digital services and products.”

Note to the editor:

On December 2015, the European Commission submitted a directive on accessibility requirements for products and services. The so-called “Accessibility Act" is an horizontal EU law covering a wide range of products and services such as computer, telephony consumer equipment, self-service terminals and a range of on- and offline services, including transport, banking services or e-commerce.

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Czech Republic

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