Accessible websites and apps for all: Council adopts first-ever EU-wide rules

Council of the EU
  • 18/07/2016
  • 11:45
  • Press release
  • 443/16
  • Telecommunications
  • Single market
18/07/2016
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80 million Europeans with disabilities need better access to websites and mobile applications. To make it happen, on 18 July 2016 the Council formally approved the public sector web accessibility directive agreed with the European Parliament in May.

As the EU population ages, the number of people with a disability or age-related limitation is expected to increase to 120 million by 2020. By making digital products and services accessible to all users, the directive plays a crucial role in ensuring that all of us can fully participate in the digital society and economy. This directive will greatly simplify the accessibility and use of services by disadvantaged people.

“We consider as essential the establishment of technical standards, the monitoring mechanism and the subsequent conformity check. I would like to congratulate the Dutch presidency for bringing this important initiative to a successful close,” said Slovak Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and the Information Society Peter Pellegrini.

Soon, the websites and mobile apps of administrations, public hospitals, courts and other public bodies will have to meet common European accessibility standards. The directive sets out minimum conditions, allowing member states to establish even stronger requirements. They may also apply these requirements and/or additional ones to the websites and apps of other types of organisations.

People will be able to request specific information if content is inaccessible or to report compliance issues simply by clicking on a feedback link.

To make sure that the rules are put into practice, member states must monitor the conformity of their public sector websites and apps. An enforcement procedure will guarantee that requests and notifications receive a due response.

A harmonised set of rules is expected to boost the development and sales of more automated and innovative accessibility products. A more integrated market should bring wider choice and cut prices across the EU, contributing to even greater inclusion, jobs and growth.

When will it become law?

The text adopted today is the Council position at first reading. To complete the procedure, the Parliament must approve the text at its second reading.

The directive will enter into force twenty days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. This is expected to take place in the autumn.

Member states will then have 21 months to adopt national provisions to comply with the directive, i.e. 'transpose' it. New websites (websites published after the transposition) must be compliant one year later, older websites two years and mobile apps 33 months later.

For more information, please see our press release of 3 May 2016 (link below).