I would like to call your attention to the plenary debate on the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty that will take place next session in Strasbourg, probably on April 29th. We would like to ask you to request speaking time or to participate through the “catch the eye” procedure to support the EU´s swift ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. This would back the demands of millions of blind persons and other visually impaired people in favor of the right to access to reading material in accessible formats.
Please find below a short explanation and suggested speaking points for the debate.
Thank you in advance for your support,
European Blind Union
Speaking points for MEPs for Marrakesh Treaty debate in the European Parliament: Please support in plenary the right to read of blind and visually-impaired persons!
Since the international agreement reached on the Marrakesh Treaty nearly two years ago it is not acceptable that the EU and its member states have yet to make any progress toward the ratification and implementation of this important international human rights tool for the access to culture of millions of blind and visually impaired persons. . We are deeply concerned and disappointed that due to a lack of consensus building, technical-legal commitment and political will on the part of EU member states time has been unduly wasted.
Why we need the Treaty?
We are suffering a “book famine” because fewer than 5 percent of the books published in Europe are available in a format which is accessible for blind and low vision readers while the books that are available cannot be shared across borders in Europe and the rest of the world where fewer than 1% of the books published are available for visually-impaired persons. This enormous lack of accessible mother tongue and foreign language literature deprives blind and partially sighted people of their right to education, information and social participation. EU ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty will help overcome the existing barriers of national copyright laws in order to facilitate the cross-border flow of specially formatted works for visually-impaired persons.
What the European Blind Union asks for:
The European Blind Union strongly opposes the attempt by the Latvian Council Presidency to suspend the ratification process by the EU of the Marrakesh Treaty. This would greatly delay the effective entry in force of the Treaty and the facilitation of access to culture of millions of blind persons in Europe and around the world.
The European Blind Union rejects any attempt to include the Marrakesh Treaty in the general debate about the future of copyright in the EU. Former Commissioner Michel Barnier committed himself publicly on behalf of the European Commission for Marrakesh ratification not to be mixed up with the EU´s new copyright framework. This Treaty is a specific issue of basic human rights for persons with disabilities that should not be delayed for many years by mixing it up with very different issues.
If the Council is convinced that new legislation is needed for implementation(though Council and Commission legal services now do not agree) the EBU asks the Council to present a written position on the legislative changes it deems necessary to EU legislation so as to avoid unnecessary disagreements and delays in the future. These should be drafted in close consultation with blind person’s representatives and their organizations to assure that the objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty are not weakened or changed in anyway by new EU legislation. Even if legal changes are needed later, the EBU asks the EU and its member states to proceed now to ratify the Treaty.
The EBU calls upon the Commission and the Council to adopt a time table which indicates the time frame for the ratification and implementation of the Marrakech treaty.
The EBU asks the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council to establish three-way informal “trialogue” consultations to reach an agreement on the swiftest way of assuring ratification and implementation of the Treaty.