EFTA experts discuss European Accessibility Act with the European Commission

Published 09-12-2016
The Working Group on Gender Equality, Anti-Discrimination and Family Policy (GEADFP) and the EFTA Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Committee) met with experts from the European Commission in Brussels on 7 December to discuss the European Accessibility Act (EAA). The meeting was also attended by experts from ministries in the EEA EFTA States via videolink.
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a directive on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States with regard to accessibility requirements for products and services, the EAA.
The goal of the forthcoming directive, which is currently being debated in the European Parliament and in Council, is to set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services to help people with disabilities to participate fully in society. It also aims at improving the proper functioning of the Internal Market and removing barriers to the free movement of accessible products and services. 
The EEA EFTA experts met with two Commission representatives, who provided them with insights into the reasoning behind the proposal, its scope and its content. In addition, the Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group on Accessibility in the European Standardisation Organisation CEN, Mr Haakon Aspelund, gave a presentation on standardisation and accessibility requirements. 
As the EAA is of horizontal nature and concerns a range of different areas of relevance to the European Economic Area, the meeting was also open to experts from ministries in the EEA EFTA States who could participate either through videoconference or in person. They engaged in in-depth discussions with the Commission on several specific areas related to the EAA, including transport, telecom, ICT and public procurement aspects of the Act. 
The meeting was moderated by Mr Petter Sørlien, Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality, and Chair of the EFTA Working Group on GEADFP. Parts of the meeting were held jointly with the EFTA TBT Committee. 

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