Commission First Vice-President Timmermans supports European Disability Movement

20 March 2019
Yannis Vardakastanis and Vice-President Timmermans

On Wednesday, the 20 March, representatives of the European Disability Forum met with Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission.

The EDF delegation was led by Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum and presented 4 key demands from the disability movement:

  • An EU legislation to ensure persons with disabilities can vote and have the accessible means to do so.

  • An ambitious European Disability Strategy 2020-2030, that involves persons with disabilities in all its phases and with a significant budget allocated. The strategy should be followed by all EU institutions, bodies and agencies.

  • The next EU budget, post 2020 needs to fully comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  • An accessible Europe: implementing existing accessibility legislation, assuring all new EU initiatives consider accessibility for persons with disabilities and guarantee that EU Commission makes sure all its web tools and infrastructure is accessible.

Mr Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum stated:

We represent over 80 million persons with disabilities living in Europe, more than 15% of the population. It is essential that the EU focuses on actions that change our lives. Years of austerity have increased the barriers that persons with disabilities face in all areas of life. We have seen the EU and every member state has ratified the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, but this does not translate into improved quality of life- people are not being reached and this is feeding the populist agenda in Europe’. Leaders of the EU should take a strong stand to ensure real social investment, innovation, forward looking initiatives, law and policy making to bridge this gap, and guarantee that rights do not remain abstract constructions but make a real difference in people’s lives.

First Vice-President Timmermans said:

The European Union, founded on the principles of equality and inclusiveness, is there to serve the well-being of all its peoples. Progress has been made but more needs to be done to ensure that people with disabilities are guaranteed the opportunities and conditions to live in dignity, pursue their aspirations and participate in today’s rapidly changing world. The socio-economic challenges people with disabilities face, such as unemployment and risk of poverty or social exclusion, are still too big and the gap with people without disabilities unacceptably wide. The European Union and its Member States have to continue working hard to address these challenges and fulfil the promise of leaving no-one behind”

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