EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis, General Secretary Rodolfo Cattani and Acting Director Javier Güemes met Vice President Reding. The goal of the meeting was to propose and define the appropriate measures to include persons with disabilities in the next steps of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020. The discussion focused on 2 important topics:
>UN Convention: the inclusive treaty
President Vardakastanis stressed: “We understand the UN Convention is the first human rights treaty signed by the EU. In fact, the implementation of this Convention will pave the way for future human rights treaties. This is why it is of great importance to focus on the content and go ahead with the implementation process involving persons with disabilities. We have not seen the UN Convention included in the Multiannual Financial Framework and we believe this is a mistake. The impact of the conclusion of the Convention needs to be real.”
EDF delivered its messages: the disability movement is backed up by the UN Convention and expects concrete results. To make sure the implementation will be successful; Commissioner Reding agreed that the EU needs stronger instruments. These instruments have to be more efficient and more inclusive. However, the current structure seems to be unable to deliver. At any rate, disability is a horizontal issue; the focal point and the disability committee are deliverables expected by article 33 of the UN Convention.
EDF wants Vice-President Reding to stay the champion of disability rights in the Institutions. The only way to improve the lives of 80 million persons with disabilities is to work with an ambitious vision on the implementation of the UN Convention in the European Union.
>European Accessibility Act: the driving force for a strong legislation
Vice-President Reding stated: “I will be a driving force: by the end of my term, we will have a solid legislation on the table.” Further to the Disability Strategy 2010-2020 presented by the Commission, EDF explained why the proposed European Accessibility Act (EAA) has to be a Directive based on the internal market provisions of the Treaty. A strong legislation is the only way to achieve accessibility in the EU. Soft legislation and voluntary approaches won’t improve the life of persons with disabilities. EDF also highlighted that a strong and binding Accessibility Act is the main objective of its campaign on Freedom of Movement.
EDF General Secretary Rodolfo Cattani highlighted the need for standards in the EAA: ”The internal market must be accessible to everyone, including disabled people. By taking into consideration the needs of users with disabilities, legislation like the proposed EAA supported by standardisation encourages equal access and avoids exclusion.”
In such a period of crisis, the austerity measures are one of the main concerns of the disability movement. EDF wants the EU to maintain the level of funding for all the relevant programs on equality, non discrimination, statistical research and mutual learning. It is also crucial to support the relevant actors in civil society. 80 million European with disabilities still expect a strong support from the European Commission.
> Contact EDF:
Aurélien Daydé | communication officer| M +32 485 64 39 93 | firstname.lastname@example.org