Explanatory memorandum context of the proposal

Grounds for the proposal/initiative

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Grounds for the proposal/initiative

Requirement(s) to be met in the short or long term

Remove divergences of national accessibility requirements related to products and services placed and provided in the EU market and related to public procurement specifications, which leads to a fragmentation of the internal market.

Defining common EU accessibility requirements for selected products and services and for public procurement of products and services.

Improving enforcement of accessibility requirements.

Added value of EU involvement

The proposal will eliminate internal market fragmentation causing obstacles to cross-border trade and distortions of competition, as well as enhance the protection of consumers, taking into account new market developments.

Only action at the EU level can create a harmonised and coherent legal framework that will allow a free flow of accessible products and services in the internal market.

This initiative will contribute to a coherent and effective implementation of the UN Convention across the EU facilitating Member States' compliance with the above mentioned international commitments benefiting industry and consumers.

Lessons learned from similar experiences in the past

Currently the area is only partially regulated at EU level.

Experiences on the Directive 2001/83/EC on Packaging of medicines, Directive 95/16/EC on Lifts or in the area of Transport Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 have shown the benefits of harmonising accessibility requirements for the Internal market.

In addition there are a number of problem drivers that justify the need of EU action in the areas under the scope of the proposed Directive:

The divergence of national accessibility requirements is driven either by lack of EU coordination of which products and services should be accessible or, when EU law or International agreements prescribes at a general level that certain products or services need to be accessible (for instance the UN Convention or the EU public procurement rules), it does not provide detailed rules on which accessibility requirements would actually apply.

Currently, this is left completely to the discretion of national authorities, which has resulted in the current patchwork of divergent accessibility requirements.

Compatibility and possible synergy with other appropriate instruments

This proposal is consistent with the objectives of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities to which the EU and the majority of Member States are a party.

The proposal is complementary to existing EU law addressing assistance to persons with disabilities or with reduced mobility like the Passenger Rights in all modes of transport (air, rail, waterborne, bus and coach).

The proposal also complements the proposal for a web accessibility Directive that covers in its scope only certain public sector websites.

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