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EBU & WBU Express Great Concern at Absence of EU Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty

The European Blind Union (EBU) and WBU have sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, and Vice-President, Mr. Andrus Ansip, urging them to put an end to the obstruction of the EU's ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. Below is the letter copied in full, and it is also available for download from the following link: Letter to President European Commission about the Ratification of the Marrakech Treaty by the EU.docLetter to President European Commission about the Ratification of the Marrakech Treaty by the EU

                                                                                                Brussels, April 18th 2016

Dear Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission:

Dear Mr Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission:


We are writing to you to express our great concern at the absence of European Union ratification of the Treaty of Marrakesh. In particular we are surprised at what appears to be the obstructive role of the European Commission´s Legal Services in unjustifiably blocking swift progress toward EU legal implementation of the Treaty.

In this context we would like to remind you of the “profound indignation” expressed by the European Parliament in its resolution adopted on February 3rd, 2016 in reaction to the prolonged delay in EU ratification of the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities” (the text of which was agreed upon by the international community and the EU in June, 2013). 

www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+MOTION+B8-2016-0168+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN 

We would also like to remind you of the obligations of the European Union under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the EU is party. The UN CRPD Committee recently urged the EU European Union “to take all appropriate measures to ratify and implement the Marrakesh Treaty as soon as possible” and made special reference to Article 21 of the CRPD which obliges parties to “provide information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost”.

In contrast to the lack of any concrete progress on the part of the EU and its Member States toward ratification and legal implementation of this Treaty, many countries around the world have already ratified the Marrakesh Treaty. Indeed, the Treaty is expected to enter into force legally in the coming months upon reaching twenty ratifications. It is therefore a great pity that this landmark international copyright and human rights treaty could very well come into force without the European Union and Member States.

We have learned to our shock and dismay that the legislative process of the draft Directive proposed as a key legal tool for the EU implementation of the Treaty has been blocked for more than six months by European Commission legal services on very surprising and extremely weak legal grounds. These are that the proposed exception and limitation of copyright for the visually-impaired and other print-disabled persons could constitute a supposed “discrimination” against other disabled groups.  It is beyond our comprehension how facilitating access to culture of 30 million blind and partially-sighted persons in Europe who suffer a book famine could possibly prejudice anyone else.

We would like to take the opportunity to request your determined intervention on behalf of the swift processing of the both the implementation tools and the ratification by the EU and its Member States of the Marrakesh Treaty.

We look forward to hearing, at your soonest convenience, how you intend to make good the EU’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by promptly removing these unnecessary obstacles to ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.

We remain at your disposal for any further information concerning the Marrakesh Treaty and its implementation by the European Union. 

Cordially yours,

Wolfgang Angermann
EBU President
European Blind Union
​EBU Central Office
6 Rue Gager-Gabillot, 75015 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 47 05 38 20 | Fax: +33 1 47 05 38 21 | ebu@euroblind.org 


Arnt Holte
WBU President
World Blind Union
WBU Central Office
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto Ontario Canada M4G 3E8
+1 416 486 9698 | info@wbu.ngo​ ​