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#Disability European Parliament demands EU ratification of Marrakesh Treaty




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WIPO Conference - pic courtesy wipoToday a vast majority of Europe's democratic representatives sent a strong message with 'profound indignation' to Germany and others to stop blocking EU ratification of the right-to-read Marrakesh Treaty for visually impaired persons.

Wolfgang Angermann, President of the European Blind Union declared: "The EBU celebrates the support of the European Parliament. A minority of EU member states who are blocking EU ratification, especially Germany and Italy, should heed the call from the European Parliament and help remove a barrier to the access to culture and fair social integration of millions of blind persons around the world. There is no rational reason nor legal basis to continue blocking EU ratification and it would be shameful if the Treaty enters into force internationally without the EU."

In June, 2013 the Marrakesh Treaty was agreed upon by the World Intellectual Property Organization with the objective of ending the 'book famine' for blind and other visually impaired persons that only have access to a small fraction of the books published for sighted persons. The Treaty has already been ratified by countries around the world and will soon enter into force internationally. Unfortunately, the EU has not ratified the Treaty and the issue has been inexplicably and irrationally blocked in the Council of Ministers for the past two years. Without the EU's participation millions of blind and other visually impaired persons will continue to be denied access to millions of written works published in EU member states.

While 21 EU member states have expressed their consent to ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, seven EU member states led by Germany and Italy have formed a blocking minority to prevent ratification on the grounds of an unsubstantiated lack of EU competence to ratify. Nevertheless, all legal experts, including the legal services of the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament insist that exclusive EU competence to ratify is beyond any doubt. The lack of commitment in reaching a constructive agreement is a clear infringement of the right to accessible information enshrined in the UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that has been signed by most EU member states.

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