Petitions Committee calls on EU countries to ratify the Marrakesh treaty

Europe, Misc., October 5 2016

The Council and EU member states need to accelerate the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, or have low vision or print disabled, urge MEPs from Parliament’s Petitions Committee. The treaty, which entered into force in many countries outside Europe on Friday, was signed by the EU in 2014 but is yet to be implemented by the Council.

person reading Braille“The EU should be in the forefront when it comes to facilitating the lives for people with disabilities. Therefore, I deeply regret that the Marrakesh Treaty will not come into force in Europe today”, said Petitions Committee Chair Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE).

“This issue has been of the highest priority for the PETI committee for a long time and we will continue supporting the ratification process and its measures until the treaty is properly implemented in all European Union member states”, she added.

By signing the Marrakesh treaty in 2014, the EU member states have taken a political commitment to ratify the treaty, Petitions Committee MEPs also stress in a resolution that was adopted by Parliament earlier this year. They call on the Council and the EU countries to accelerate the ratification process.

This summer, Canada became the key 20th nation to accede to the Marrakesh treaty, which secured its entry into force on 30 September 2016. Other countries to have ratified it include India, Uruguay, Mongolia, Australia, South Korea and Israel.

World Health Organisation estimated in 2010 that across Europe there are 26.3 million individuals with vision disabilities, of which 2.5 million are blind and 23.8 partially sighted. However, in the developed countries only 5% of all published books are produced in accessible format while in the developing countries this rate is less than 1%, MEPs point out in the resolution.

The Marrakesh treaty, adopted on 27 June 2013, was signed by the EU and the member states on 30 April 2014. It aims inter alia to enhance cross-border exchange of books in accessible formats such as Braille or large print.  After obtaining European Parliament’s consent, it is for the Council to authorise the ratification of the treaty.

The treaty entered into force in many countries outside Europe on 30 September 2016, after its ratification by 20 WIPO (World intellectual property organisation) member states.

Parliament’s adopted resolution is based on the petitions received from EU citizens with print disabilities, particularly on petition 924/2011 on access by people who are blind to books and other printed products.

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