The UK was unable to support the General Approach on the European Accessibility Act at EPSCO on 7th December 2017, but neither does the UK oppose it. The UK has therefore abstained.
The UK believes in robust legislation on accessibility and has always supported the aims of the European Accessibility Act in improving the accessibility of a range of products and services for persons with disabilities. The UK ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009 and is committed to the progressive realisation of the rights for disabled people that it sets out. The UK Equality Act 2010 already prohibit discrimination on grounds of disability and imposes a duty on providers of goods and services to make “reasonable adjustments” to prevent this.
Despite the improvements that had been made during Council negotiations, the UK considered that the text was not yet ready to be agreed. The UK was particularly concerned about the potential that prescriptive requirements would hamper innovation, to the detriment of future accessibility provision. In addition, the lack of clarity in some parts of the text and the risk of overlap with sectoral legislation were cause for concern.
The UK recognises the challenges of negotiating such an important and technically detailed file. We would like to thank the Presidency for continuing to work with Member States to address the long-standing issues with the text.
2 February 2018