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THE DISABILITY MOVEMENT CALLS FOR SOCIAL INVESTMENTS TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES FROM THE CRISIS

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EDF Board meeting in CyprusCyprus, 18 November 2012 /// On 17-18 November 2012, the European disability movement gathered at Ayia Napa, Cyprus, for EDF’s Board meeting thanks to the support of the Cyprus EU Presidency. Representatives of its member organisations all around Europe, as well as representatives of the Cyprus Republic and the European Parliament discussed the steps to be taken towards a more inclusive and accessible Europe. During the meeting, EDF adopted a Statement on the crisis in view of the upcoming European Council on 22-23 November 2012.

All Member States of the EU have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and 24 have ratified. Also, the EU has concluded the CRPD. Therefore, the EU has been committed to protect and promote the human rights as well as the economic and social rights of persons with disabilities. The discussion of EDF’s Board meeting 2012 was focused on:

- The implementation of the CRPD in EU and what can be done to facilitate it
- The presentation of a European Accessibility Act and the adoption of legislation on websites accessibility in 2013
- The Structural funds 2014-2020: how they shall be used to promote inclusion and anti-discrimination

“The CRPD has come to bring a new paradigm shift, to change society and ourselves and the way we are organised as a disability movement. Because we are organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs), this does not mean that we are automatically CRPD driven; we need to be at the forefront to drive society towards an era of change. This is even more crucial now, in times of crisis: persons with disabilities will not accept to be the victims of a crisis that we are not responsible for”, underlined EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis at the opening of the meeting.

The Commissioner for Administration and Human Rights (Cyprus Ombudsman), Eliza Savvidou stressed that the EU must use all legal and institutional tools to implement the CRPD. “Real protection of these rights is not a matter of charity or sensitivity but a legal, human rights matter. Combating discrimination on the ground of disability is synonymous to combating poverty and social exclusion to the benefit of the whole of society”, said Ms. Savvidou.

MEP and Member of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, contributed to EDF’s Board meeting with his words of commitment to work with the European disability movement: “Democracy means seeking out and engaging vulnerable and socially excluded groups, especially people with disabilities in policy planning and in decision-making process, at all levels. More than everything it means listening and working side by side with you”, said Mr. Hadjigeorgiou.

Represented by the Director of the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance of Cyprus, Christina Flourentzou, the Minister Sotiroula Charalampous, congratulated EDF on the constructive and long term work it has done to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and underlined that “despite the economic crisis, they will keep fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities”.

Mayor of Ayia Napa, Nakis Tsokkos, emphasized the efforts of the Municipality of Ayia Napa on equal opportunities and active participation of persons with disabilities as well as the fight against discrimination. “Despite our efforts, the accessibility remains to be problematic, not because of lack of willingness on our behalf, but due to the restricted budget that is available for the implementation of such projects”, said Mr. Tsokkos.


> WE WANT EU MONEY INVESTED ON ACCESSIBILITY & SOCIAL INCLUSION



Acknowledging that persons with disabilities and their families have been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis leading to the worsening of their living conditions and endangering their social rights, during its Board meeting in Cyprus, EDF adopted a Statement on the crisis calling for social investments to protect and respect the rights of persons with disabilities. The Statement will be sent to the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Central Bank and all the heads of State and Government in view of the upcoming European Council on 22-23 November 2012.


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word document EDF’s Statement on the crisis



> CONTACT


Lila Sylviti | EDF Communications Officer | lila.sylviti@edf-feph.org



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