On 13 March
2019, the European Parliament approved the final version of the Directive on
the accessibility requirements for products and services (European
Accessibility Act, EAA). The purpose of the Directive is to help improve the
functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services by
removing barriers that have arisen as a result of different accessibility
legislation in the Member States. This should bring tangible benefits to disabled
and elderly people in the EU. It should also provide legal certainty for businesses
and public administrations.
People with disabilities and the elderly will now benefit from more
accessible products and services on the market at more competitive prices.
There will be fewer barriers to accessing education and the general labour
market, including more jobs that meet the needs of disabled and elderly people.
Directive aims to provide better access for disabled and elderly people to
products and services such as ATMs and banking services, payment terminals,
e-commerce websites, mobile apps and ticketing machines. The emergency number
112 (see our current article) will also then be accessible
to everyone in Europe.
ensures that national market surveillance authorities have the power to hold
private companies accountable if they fail to comply with the Directive. The
requirements of the Act will also complement and support the rules on public
procurement of accessible products and services.
Directive contains exemptions in areas such as transport, the built environment
and household appliances. Microenterprises providing services are also exempt
from complying with the requirements of the Act. The result is a watering down
of the effects of the Directive; full access to products and services for the
most vulnerable groups of people is still not a given.
The Directive still needs to be formally approved by the European Council; however,
no further changes are expected. The Directive must then be published in the
Official Journal of the EU. After that, Member States have three years to introduce
the new provisions into their national laws and six years to apply them. Eleven
years after entry into force and every five years thereafter, the Commission
will submit a report on the application of the Directive to the European
Parliament, the European Council, the European Economic and Social Committee
and the Committee of the Regions.
text of the Directive is available here.
Parliament’s press release can be viewed here.