The Socialists and Democrats were the driving force behind a new piece of legislation that will allow European citizens with disabilities better access to products and services such as computers, mobile phones or travel ticketing and automatic teller machines, which was voted today in the European Parliament’s plenary. Taking into account demographic ageing, by 2020 an expected 120 million persons in Europe will have varying degrees of disabilities, and many of these citizens will struggle to use products and services which are part of our daily lives and often taken for granted.
Olga Sehnalová, S&D negotiator on the accessibility requirements for products and services, said:
“With this Directive, a significant progress has been achieved for elderly and disabled persons in Europe to access better services and products necessary for their daily life. This outcome is the result of years of fighting for disabled people's rights and I am glad to contribute to this important and very concrete improved inclusiveness of our society. However, this is not an outcome without any disappointment. I am astonished by the lack of ambition of the member states to make better use of this opportunity and reach for a higher level of accessibility and the inclusion of more products and services in this Directive, notably in the area of mobility. The S&D Group fought until the end to achieve results that are more ambitious for our citizens, and we only consider this important Directive a first step towards better accessibility everywhere in Europe.”
Nicola Danti, S&D Group spokesperson on internal market and consumer protection, added:
“Access to computers, mobile phones, e-book-readers or payment terminals and ATMs are nowadays key to be integrated as part of our society. It is therefore a huge success to have better conditions for the access of telecommunication services, online banking, or also to electronic programming guides (EPGs) for television broadcasts. Accessibility for all citizens comes not automatically from the private sector, but needs to have political support. We Socialists and Democrats are proud to be part of the progressive forces who worked on this field, and we will continue on those areas where industry, conservative political groups or certain member states are still blocking the much needed progress in this area.”