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Protesters gather outside European Parliament over Accessibility Act


Belgium

Protesters gather outside European Parliament over Accessibility Act

The European Disability Forum led a protest outside the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday, aimed at persuading MEPs to strengthen the European Accessibility Act.

A small but vocal group of activists targeted the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, who have recently published a report which has been accused of watering down the Act.

They later entered the European Parliament’s Single Market Committee meeting, to continue their protest.

The Accessibility Act is aimed at making access to goods and services easier for the 80 million people in Europe with disabilities.

The European Disability Forum say this directive could affect a broad range of services, such as withdrawing money from ATMs, using public transport and metro systems, and accessing public buildings.

One way that activists hope the Act can be strengthened is by insuring the Act is in line with Article 9 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This part of the CRPD, which has been individually ratified by all EU member states except Ireland, obliges signatories to deliver accessible products and services to all citizens.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities first recommended this step to the European Union in September 2015.

Author of the criticised draft report and Danish MEP, Morten Løkkegaard, said: “being pragmatic and realistic, I am acutely aware that we will not achieve 100% accessibility overnight, but I am confident that, with this Act, we are heading in the right direction”.

The Act will also hope to improve access for the elderly, and Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe said: “AGE Platform Europe and its members are calling on the European Parliament not to miss this timely opportunity to further advance towards a truly inclusive European Union. The European Union is turning 60, high time to think about accessibility”.