European Commission calls for entries from across the EU
Brussels, 21/05/2013 - The European Commission has opened today the competition for the fourth "Access City Award", the European Award for Accessible Cities. The annual prize recognises and celebrates cities that are dedicated to providing an accessible environment for all, and for disabled and older people in particular. The Award is part of the EU's wider efforts to create a barrier-free Europe: improved accessibility brings lasting economic and social benefits to cities, especially in the context of demographic ageing. Cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants have until 10 September (midnight Brussels time) to submit their candidacy for the award.
"Let's keep working together to facilitate lives of EU citizens", said Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "I encourage cities all over Europet o participate and share their ideas on how to make life more accessible for all. If you have made special efforts to improve accessibility, your city can be a good example and inspiration for others".
Approximately 80 million Europeans have a disability. With the ageing of our society, the number of people with a disability or those with reduced mobility is growing. Giving everyone access to city transport, public spaces and services, and technology has become a real challenge. However, providing accessibility also gives economic and social benefits and contributes to the sustainability and inclusiveness of the urban environment.
In line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, accessibility is one of the pillars of the European Union's Disability Strategy 2010-2020 which aims at creating a barrier-freeEuropefor all.
The selection process
The selection will take place in two phases, with a pre-selection at the national level followed by a final selection at the European level. In the European competition phase, a jury composed of accessibility experts including representatives of the European Disability Forum will select out of the national nominees maximum four finalists to attend the award ceremony in Brussels. The ceremony will coincide with the European Day of People with Disabilities Conference on 3-4 December 2013. The winner of the competition will be recognised as the "Winner of the Access City Award2014". Another two cities will be awarded as ''finalists'' for their innovative measures on accessibility.
The European Jury will also give special "mentions" to cities that have achieved notable successes and results in specific areas or aspects of accessibility.
Accessibility needs to be implemented in a coherent and systematic manner in goods, services and infrastructure. Initiatives will be assessed for their integrated approach across four key areas: the built environment and public spaces; transportation and related infrastructure; information and communication, including new technologies (ICT); public facilities and services.
The jury will particularly look at the impact of accessibility measures on the everyday life of people with disabilities and the city as a whole, and it will consider the quality and sustainability of the results achieved. Cities will also have to demonstrate active involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the planning and implementation of the city's accessibility policies.
How to apply
Applications can be submitted on-line until 10 September 2013 (midnight Brussels time) in English, French or German viahttp://ec.europa.eu/justice/access-city.
The Access-City Award's first, second and third editions
After a first successful inaugural year2010 inwhich the Spanish city of Avila received the Access City Award 2011, the campaign in 2011 saw 114 cities from 23 EU member states joining the competition. On 1 December 2011 the Austrian citySalzburgwas proclaimed as the winner of the Access City Award 2012.
The application phase for the Access City Award 2013 closed on 5 September 2012 with 99 cities from 20 EU member states in the competition. The Award was given to theGermanCityofBerlinat a ceremony organised inBrusselson 3 December 2012, on the occasion of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The two other finalists were:Nantes(France) andStockholm(Sweden). . In 2012 the jury also assigned special mentions to:Pamplona(Spain) for the built environment and public spaces,Gdynia(Poland) for transport and related infrastructures,Bilbao(Spain) for information and communication, including new technologies and Tallaght (Ireland) for public facilities and services.
TodayGdyniahosts a conference called ''accessible cities - best practices'' where the winner, the finalists and other EU cities will share their practices and discuss their projects and future plans on accessibility.Gdynia, awarded with the special mention for transport and related infrastructure, is well known for promoting awareness and understanding of disability.
EU policy on accessibility
The EU Disability Strategy 2010-2020 provides the general framework for action in the area of disability and accessibility at EU level to complement and support Member States' action. In this context, the European Commission is preparing a proposal for a European Accessibility Act, to be presented in the second half of 2013.
Specific provisions on accessibility are contained in EU legislation in areas such as transport and electronic communication services. The EU makes use of a variety of instruments beyond legislation and policy, such as research and standardisation, to optimise the accessibility of the built environment, ICT, transport, and other areas, and to foster an EU-wide market for accessible products and services.
The EU also aims to improve the functioning of the assistive technology market for the benefit of people with disabilities and supports a "Design for all" approach that benefits a wider part of the population, such as elderly people and those with reduced mobility.
For more information
Would you like to have your city projects featured in the next booklet of the Access City Award? If you want to share your experiences and actions with other cities, read more about the Access City Award on:http://ec.europa.eu/justice/access-city
European Disability Strategy 2010-2020
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities