“Twenty one EU member states now agree to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty under EU competence and with a few more countries favourable there will be a qualified majority for the EU Council to ratify.”
This was the most important news given by the European Commission in the European Parliament on Wednesday speaking at an event sponsored by a cross-party group of MEPs and co-organized by the European Disability Forum, the European Blind Union, the World Blind Union and the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue. Two years after the international agreement was reached on a text for the Marrakesh Treaty for the Visually-impaired and while many countries around the world are already ratifying, EU ratification is blocked in the Council due to the “usual political power fight” among member states, according to Jazmin Battista, member of the Cabinet of Andrius Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market.
On Wednesday, June 24th over 50 people from blind persons organizations,
NGOs, members of the European Parliament and the European Commission. MEPs from all the major political groups, Koch (EPP from Germany), Gasbarra (Socialist from Italy), Andersson(Green from Sweden), Girauta (Liberal from Spain) and Kuneva (Leftist from Greece), have committed themselves to act in favour of EU ratification both within the Parliament and through pressure in EU member states. MEPs also referred to an amendment in favor of swift EU ratification of Marrakesh in the Reda report on copyright that will be voted on in the Parliament´s July plenary session. Commissioners´ Ansip and Oettinger sent high-level members of their Cabinets to show their support for swift ratification and their commitment to guarantee the right to read of visually impaired persons in Europe and around the world. Maria Martín Prat, the head of the EU´s copyright unit also took an active part in the meeting.
The presidents of the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European Blind Union (EBU), Yannis Vardakastanis and Wolfgang Angermann, respectively, explained the importance and the legal context of the Marrakesh Treaty within the long fight for the rights of persons with disabilities. They both stressed that the great effort invested in getting the Treaty could not be wasted now due to political in-fighting and procedural delays. The EDF´s president said in was unacceptable and against international law that important legislation for persons with disabilities such as the Marrakesh Treaty “was sleeping in the EU Council”. The EBU‘s president said that blind persons could not wait any longer to have access to 95% of the books which today are still un accessible and would start to be available with the treaty.
The representatives of the European Commission, without supplying any details, mentioned that they had proposed a “compromise” to EU member states to achieve swift EU ratification and that 21 countries had accepted the proposal. It is known that Germany and Italy have not accepted the proposal due to a rejection of exclusive EU competence to ratify the Treaty (despite the fact that almost all legal experts confirm there is no doubt about this).
The meeting concluded with the determination to take the ratification campaign to the national level, in particular to Germany and Italy, and to prepare a specific resolution on the issue in the European Parliament.