Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Diversity and integration

Inclusion - 24.11.2006

How to ensure accessibility for all to public infrastructure? (Build for All conference - 15/11/06)
Promoting accessibility for all to the built environment by including accessibility criteria in public calls for tenders, this is the common objective of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), the EU Commission and Parliament, and the partners of the Build for All project.
With the Build for All project nearing its end, partners held a conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 November 2006 to share results, report on successes and discuss how to enhance the accessibility of the built environment across Europe.
To reach this objective, Build for All, which is financially supported by the EU Commission, produced a "reference manual" to help local, regional and national governments include accessibility criteria in public calls for tender in line with the new EU directives on public procurement.
This manual includes a practical guidance for contracting authorities to incorporate certain procedures and technical requirements in procurement, said Silvio Sagramola from Info-Handicap, the lead partner of the project. It also shows the benefits of accessibility in the built environment for all citizens.
1/3 of EU population to be over 60 years old by 2050!
It was then recalled that, by 2050, one third of European population will be over 60 years old. An accessible environment is therefore imperative for maintaining an active ageing population. Keeping people active as long as possible also means to keep them working as long as possible highlighted Elizabeth Lynn, Member of the European Parliament.
These words were reinforced by Elizabeth Straw, talking on behalf of Vladimir Spidla, EU Commissioner for employment, social affairs and equal opportunities: An accessible built environment means being able to travel either for work or leisure purposes, and to play a full part in the communities.
With a view to bringing forward the rights of disabled people, the Council of European municipalities and Regions (CEMR) has committed itself to continue to raise awareness among local and regional authorities by widely disseminating the reference manual.
Local and regional authorities are major public employers, accounting for around 16% of total employment in the European Union, declared Asli Ozceri from CEMR. They are responsible for organising and delivering a wide range of public services including local public transport, social and health services, education or street maintenance.
For all these reasons, promoting public facilities, buildings and infrastructures which are accessible for all constitutes a central objective for municipalities and regions, she concluded.
The reference manual addressed to local and regional authorities can be downloaded from the website of the Build for All project (translations in French, German and Spanish soon available).
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