October 2012 update
Opposition between EU Member States on the new long term budget of the European Union, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), remains deep and the perspective to reach an agreement in November is fragile. A group of Member States want to make drastic cuts to the budget wished by the European Commission and the European Parliament. Yet, the EU budget must ensure the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is concluded by the EU.
In times of economic crisis, disability mainstreaming and budgeting is more needed than ever. That is why EDF calls for the mainstreaming of the UN CRPD in the MFF and all financial instruments. EDF calls upon inclusion of a horizontal clause by adding a new article to mainstream disability. This new article would cover all issues that the European Commission would be under the obligation to mainstream, should include the rights of persons with disabilities and in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
We also call upon the inclusion of accessibility for persons with disabilities as a condition for all funding instruments of the MFF.
EDF stresses some critical issues such as ensuring that sufficient resources are available for the implementation of the UN CRPD, both within the European Commission, but also for training capacity building of national authorities and support for participation of organisations or persons with disabilities. In this framework, EDF is actively following the legislative negotiations on the Rights and Citizenship Programme; EDF and some of its member organisations have joined forces with 11 European networks representing groups at risk of discrimination on the grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, age and sexual orientation in order to propose joint amendments to the proposal for the Rights and Citizenship Programme and strengthen its voice and demands:
Moreover, EDF has adopted a resolution on the MFF during its board meeting of March 4, 2012, calling on the EU institutions to ensure inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the MFF:
Once the proposal was published in October 2011, EDF continued advocating towards the European Parliament in order to highlight the limitations of the current regulations and deliver a more inclusive cohesion policy. We sent our demands to the key MEPS including the Rapporteurs and we organised a workshop at the Parliament under the aegis of the Ms Hubner, Chair of the EP Committee on Regional Development.
In the meantime, EDF and its members met with Permanent Representations and representatives of ministries of several countries, as well as the Danish Presidency trying to influence the process in the European Council. In this context, in order to object the deletion of anti-discrimination, gender equality and disability conditionalities for Member States to access EU money, we signed a joint statement with seven other organisations including several members of the Social Platform
Last but not least, EDF is providing its members with a toolkit on how to engage in the national lobby in order to be involved in the development of the Partnership Contracts.
The future Cohesion Policy is a test for the EU to comply with the CRPD obligations. Therefore, EDF has stressed the importance of the formal partnership with Civil Society organisations, of the measures to fight discrimination and to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities across Europe in order to make the future Cohesion Policy work in a more effective way.
EDF reacted when the Commission adopted in October 2011 a proposal for a regulation establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which should become the financial instrument that will support transport infrastructure projects across Europe, by means of co-funding. Transport infrastructure are indeed fundamental for freedom of movement of persons with disabilities; in practice, it would allow 80 million Europeans with disabilities to have the same opportunities to move, study, work, live and participate to the internal market as any other citizens in the EU. For this reason, EDF is monitoring the legislative development of the proposal and calls for an additional 10% co-financing rate to be awarded to projects enhancing the accessibility of transport infrastructure for people with disabilities.
EDF followed closely the legislative process for the regulation establishing the rules of the various external action financial instruments. EDF advocated from the onset for the inclusion of the UN CRPD in all the instruments. EDF wants specific actions towards people with disabilities to be funded through these instruments. Similarly to other financial instruments, EDF calls on the principle of accessibility for disabled people to be mainstreamed in all actions funded by the instruments.