The proposed Directive will prevent and dismantle existing obstacles in the internal market due to divergent national legislation. As a consequence, it will guide Member States' compliance with the UNCRPD in what concerns accessibility.
When entering into force, the harmonisation of accessibility in the EU will be at the level of functional accessibility requirements, namely, general principles based on a "design for all" approach, and not at detailed technical level. This level would be sufficient to ensure the good functioning of the internal market for the products and services covered.
However, the Directive also caters for situations where further detailed harmonisation for some products and services would be needed or where industry needs more detail and guidance to facilitate their conformity. The Directive provides for a number of options in this case: the use of voluntary harmonised standards and, in the absence of harmonised standards, the use of implementing acts to further define the accessibility requirements included. Typically these options would be used only after a reasonable period of application of the Directive, and would depend on the market's/consumers' proved need for further harmonisation and would be based on evidence of either market or regulatory failures.
The possibility to request the development of European standards in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 is an established way of further detailing legal requirements given in EU Internal market legislation. Those harmonised standards will contain technical details on "How" to make products and services accessible. Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 also regulates transparency and inclusiveness of the standardisation process leading to adoption of requested standards.
Application of harmonised standards will remain voluntary. However, when using harmonised standards, the references of which have been published in the Official Journal, there is a presumption of conformity that the accessibility requirements of the Directive covered by those standards or parts thereof have been complied with, allowing the free circulation of these products and services in the EU internal market. Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 also provides for the procedures for objections to harmonised standards where those standards do not entirely satisfy the accessibility requirements set out in this Directive.
The proposed Directive will support industry to address accessibility by using the same functional accessibility requirements to define accessibility obligation laid down in EU law, such as the obligation for Member States to buy/fund accessible products and services enshrined in the revised Public Procurement Directives.