The EAA will soon become law…
In February we updated you on the proposed Directive on Accessibility Requirements for Products and Services (also known as the European Accessibility Act (“EAA”)), you can read that article here. Yesterday, the EU Council formally adopted the EAA and we can shortly expect this to be signed, published in the Official Journal and become law.
But there will be a long implementation period…
From the date the EAA is in force, Member States will have up to two years to transpose it into national law provisions. They will then have a further four years to implement those national law provisions (so six years total for implementation).
Yes, it’s a long lead in period, but we anticipate Member States will need it. Implementation may be challenging because there is currently a range of legal approaches to accessibility across the EU. For example, some Member States use anti-discrimination laws, others use disability law, and others again have sector-specific laws. Those approaches will need careful unpicking to ensure proper and clear implementation.
In addition, given that businesses will likely appreciate more clarity being provided to them on their obligations, beyond what is currently in the EAA, the six year lead in period gives time for this to take place. We anticipate that this is likely to happen via guidance and harmonised standards.
Do businesses need to do anything?
Despite being at least six years away, we strongly recommend that businesses, particularly those involved in the design stage of products and services or who are importing products, get ahead of the curve. They can do this by starting to familiarise themselves now with the EAA’s new obligations and considering how they will comply. The additional regulatory obligations of the EAA are potentially far reaching and early embracing of the principle of “design for all” will help ease that transition.
Draft text of the EAA here
European Parliament’s press release on approving EAA here
European Council’s press release on adoption of EAA here