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European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU, creating a set of standards for EU public sector bodies, was approved on October 26, 2016. The Directive explicitly affects public sector bodies, but the private sector may also be impacted by the Directive.

The Directive encourages Member States to extend the Directive to private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public. Some examples of industries that provide services to the public include:

  • healthcare;
  • childcare;
  • social inclusion;
  • social security; and
  • electronic communication.

The Directive also calls attention to services referred to in Directive 2014/25/EU, which creates standardized procurement rules for both public and private entities operating certain public services. Member States should pay particular attention to private entities operating in the following sectors:

  • transportation (buses, trains, etc);
  • transport facilities (ports, airports);
  • utilities (electricity, gas, heat, water); and
  • postal services.

In addition, although the Directive does not apply to private television and radio broadcasters, the Commission acknowledges that persons with disabilities should have access to the audiovisual content produced by those entities. The Directive notes: “that right may be better developed in the context of Union sector-specific legislation” or “legislation … that also applies to private broadcasters.”

The Directive implies that it is aware of the differing standards that apply to public and private entities and will potentially want those standards to be harmonized in the future.

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