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European Union votes to ratify Marrakesh Treaty

The World Blind Union is delighted by European Union's vote to ratify Marrakesh Treaty.  597 members of the European Parliament out of 627 voted in favour of the Treaty, on January 18.  Only 8 members voted against and 25 abstentions. 

"I am extremely happy that the European Parliament has finally voted in favor of the decision that allows EU to ratify Marrakesh Treaty," said Ms. Barbara Munoz-Martin, a key member of the WBU Marrakesh Implementation and Ratification Campaign Committee.

"Now we will have to wait for the deposit of the instrument at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) to see EU in the list of ratifications, and from that moment three more months to apply it! I do hope that happens by the end of 2018," said Ms. Munoz-Martin.

The CEO of the World Blind Union Dr. Penny Hartin congratulated members of the WBU-European Region for their intense advocacy campaigns over the years to push for the ratification of the Treaty.

"We are extremely thrilled to hear this news and happy that majority of the EU members have voted to ratify the Treaty", said Dr. Hartin.

Meanwhile, the European Blind Union (EBU) acknowledges and appreciates the rapidity of the Council and the Parliament in proceeding with the vote. 

"This procedure allows the Council to fulfil the ratification and later deposit the Treaty in Geneva at WIPO, an important step that completes the already approved implementation of the exception within the legislative acquis of the Union," said EBU in a press release. 

"Thanks to this legislation, the adaptation and cross-border exchange of copyrighted books will be assured for non-profit uses to serve blind and visually-impaired people," said the EBU. 

Over 90% of all published materials cannot be read by blind or print-disabled people, leading to a "book famine." Current copyright rules within most countries prevent the ability to reproduce published materials into accessible formats, such as Braille, large print, and audio editions. Working with WIPO, the WBU led the international campaign to develop the Marrakesh Treaty that would facilitate Access to Published Works by people with print disabilities. The Marrakesh Treaty signed in Morocco on 28 June 2013, is a legally binding international agreement that creates mandatory exceptions to national copyright law to protect the human rights of individuals with print disabilities.  To date, 33 countries have ratified the Treaty. An addition of 25 EU countries will be a milestone achievement for the WBU's effort to enhance the human rights of print-disabled people. 

More information about the Marrakesh Treaty is available on our WBU website​.