The representative organisation of persons with disabilities in Europe
European disability Forum NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US
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Facts and Figures about disability
Definition on disability
The present glossary includes specific disability related terminology, as well as the main EU jargon terms used within the work of the European Disability Forum.

Disability Glossary

  • Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament

Informal grouping of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all nationalities and the major political groups committed to disability issues. This group was established in 1980 and represents an important ally for the European Disability Forum to advance disability rights in the European Union.

  • Disability comprehensive legislation

Obtaining a European law that will protect disabled people from discrimination in all fields of life is one of EDF’s major challenges and goals.

In 2000, a European Directive was adopted on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation. Yet, discrimination does not merely occur in the field of employment. To guarantee equal access to the employment market, disabled people need assured access to quality education, transportation, products and services…For that purpose, EDF presented in 2003 a proposal for a comprehensive European legislation that will cover simultaneously all these fields. To the present date, the campaign is still ongoing.

See also Directive under EU Glossry

  • Heterogeneous group

As with all spheres of society, disabled people form a very diverse group of men and women, with their own specific needs and demands. While representing all these different concerns, the European Disability Forum speaks with one unique and strong voice at EU level.

  • High Level Group on Disability

Composed of one representative per Member State of the European Union, the High Level Group monitors the latest policies and priorities of governments regarding disability. With its information and experience, it advises the European Commission on methods for reporting in future on the EU-wide situation with regards to disability.

High Level Group on Disability Website

  • Human Rights and non-discrimination

The first article of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states: “All human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights”. Despite this fact, disabled people continue to suffer from discrimination everyday, in every field of life.

To tackle this situation, society at large should seek to ensure that disabled people can enjoy the full range of Human Rights (civil, political, social, economical and cultural), as acknowledged by the different international Conventions, the EU Treaty and the different national constitutions.

  • Invisible citizens

Discrimination faced by disabled people can be based on prejudice, but very often, it is caused by the fact that disabled people are largely forgotten an ignored by society. Oversightness results in the creation and reinforcement of environmental and attitudinal barriers, which prevent disabled people from taking part in society.

For the European Disability Forum, making disabled people visible is the first and crucial step to fight discrimination.

  • The Madrid Declaration

The Madrid Declaration is a key document that defined the vision and political priorities of the European disability movement, in view of the European Year of People with Disabilities (2003). The Declaration was the result of a consensus between the European Disability Forum, the Spanish Presidency of the European Union and the European Commission. It was adopted and proclaimed by more than 600 participants from 34 countries during the European Congress of People with Disabilities, held in Madrid in March 2002.

This important document remains a key reference for a united and strong European disability movement.

  • Mainstreaming

Disability mainstreaming can be defined as the systematic integration of the priorities and needs of disabled people in all policies and general measures, from the planning stage, to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

  • Prejudice

Process of "pre-judging" something or someone. Disabled people are very often victims of social stereotypes due to lack of knowledge and fear towards disability. Discrimination occurs when people disregard that disabled people are foremost women and men, as anybody else, making unfair and premature conclusions based on disabled people’s impairments or difference.

  • UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities

After 5 years of negotiation a UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will finally be adopted in 2007 by the UN General Assembly. The Convention is based on existing Human Rights Treaties and their application to people with disabilities. Its aim is to guarantee an effective protection of disabled people and ensure that they can enjoy from the most basic human rights. The text prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life and addresses access to the full range of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including through positive actions.

The Convention binds the signatory States to implement its provisions. A monitoring mechanism reports the advances in each State.

Link to the UN Convention


EU glossary

  • Article 13 of the EU Treaty

Article 13 was integrated among the EU fundamental principles in the Amsterdam Treaty, in 1997. It is the only existing legal base in the Treaty that protects disabled people from discrimination. It states:

“Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Treaty and within the limits of the powers conferred by it upon the Community, the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”.

Link to the EU Treaties

  • Best practice

One way of improving policies in the EU is for governments to look at what is going on in other EU countries and to see what works best. They can then adopt this 'best practice', adapting it to their own national and local circumstances.

Source: European Commission website – “The EU at a glance”

  • Charter of Fundamental Rights

In 1999, the Cologne European Council started the work on drafting a Charter of Fundamental Rights. The aim was to consolidate in a single document the fundamental rights applicable at Union level. The Charter, based on the Community Treaties and international conventions and finally adopted in Nice in 2000, contains two articles of particular importance for disabled people: Article 21 on “non-discrimination” and Article 26 on the “Integration of persons with disabilities”. This Charter should be integrated in the future new EU Constitutional Treaty, to become legally binding.

Link to the Charter of Fundamental Rights

  • Civil dialogue

At EU level, civil dialogue means the consultation of civil society by the European Union, when is drawing up its policies and proposals for legislation.

See also Social partners and social dialogue under EU Glossary

  • Civil society

The definition includes all kinds of organizations and associations that are not part of government but that represent professions, interest groups or sections of society (trade unions, employers' associations, lobbies, pressure groups…) and so on.

  • Cohesion

This means (literally) 'sticking together'. The jargon term 'promoting social cohesion' means making sure that everyone has a place in society – for example by tackling poverty, unemployment and discrimination.

Source: European Commission website – “The EU at a glance”

  • Directive

European Union Directives bind the Member States as to the results to be achieved, they have to be transposed into the national legal framework and thus leave a margin for manoeuvre as to the form and means of implementation.

  • EEA (European Economic Area):

The European Economic Area is formed by the 25 EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Following the EEA agreement, the last three countries benefit from the advantages of the single market, without being part of the European Union membership.

  • Lisbon strategy

Set in 2000 and revised in 2004, the Lisbon strategy is an action and development plan for the European Union. It is based on a new EU goal: to become, within a decade, "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.”

The 'Lisbon strategy' covers such matters as research, education, training, Internet access and on-line business. It also covers reform of Europe's social protection systems, which must be made sustainable so that their benefits can be enjoyed by future generations. Every spring the European Council meets to review progress in implementing the Lisbon strategy.

  • MEP

Member of the European Parliament. The 732 members of the assembly are elected by direct universal suffrage and are distributed between Member States by reference to their population.

  • Member States

Since 1st May 2004, the European Union member States include: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

  • Open method of coordination

In many policy areas (for example education and training, pensions and health care, immigration and asylum), EU governments set their own national policies rather than having an EU-wide policy laid down in law. However, it makes sense for governments to share information, adopt best practice and bring their national policies into line. This way of learning from one another is called the 'open method of coordination'.

Source: European Commission website – “The EU at a glance”

  • Social Partners and social dialogue

The term includes the two categories of the industry: employers and workers. At EU level they are represented by three main organisations:

  • The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), representing workers;
  • The Union of Industries of the European Community (UNICE), representing private sector employers;
  • The European Centre for Public Enterprise (CEEP), representing public sector employers.

In the framework of the social dialogue, social partners are consulted by the European Union when drawing up proposals for social and employment legislation.

  • Stakeholder

Any person or organisation with an interest in or affected by EU legislation and policymaking is a 'stakeholder' in that process. The European Commission generally consults various stakeholders, including disability organizations, before proposing new legislation or new policy initiatives.

Source: European Commission website – “The EU at a glance”

  • Transnational

This word is often used to describe cooperation between businesses or organisations based in more than one EU country.

Source: European Commission website – “The EU at a glance”

An exhaustive glossary on EU jargon is available on the Europa website and EU at glance


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