The Council and the EU member states should accelerate the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty to facilitate access to books for blind and visually impaired persons, MEPs urge in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. Marrakesh Treaty, adopted in 2013, aims to enhance cross-border exchange of books in accessible formats such as Braille or large print.
“The lack of commitment from member states to reach a constructive agreement is a clear violation of the right to easily accessible information, enrolled in the UN convention on rights for people with disabilities”, Petitions committee chair Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) said.
“The European citizens have waited long enough. After four years with lack of understanding for the needs of people with disabilities, it is time to find a political solution in support of the blind and the visually impaired persons’ right to literature,” she added.
By signing the Marrakesh treaty in 2014, the EU and the member states have taken a political commitment to ratify the treaty, MEPs stress and express concerns about a minority block formed by seven EU countries, which has stopped the ratification process. They call on the Council and the member states to accelerate the ratification process.
World Health Organisation estimated in 2010 that across Europe there are 26.3 million visually impaired individuals, 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.
The Marrakesh Treaty, adopted on 27 June 2013, was signed by the EU and the member states on 30 April 2014. After obtaining European Parliament’s consent, it is for the Council to authorise the ratification of the treaty.
The treaty will enter into force after its ratification by twenty WIPO Member States.
The resolution is based on the petitions received from EU citizens with print disabilities, particularly on a petition 924/2011 on access by blind people to books and other printed products.