Commissioner Thyssen commits to support the rights of persons with disabilities

22 April 2015
EDF-BDF delegation with Commissioner Thyssen (in the centre)

On 20 April 2015, EDF and the Belgian Disability Forum (BDF) met Commissioner Marianne Thyssen to discuss the EU's responsibilities towards persons with disabilities.

In the beginning of the meeting, BDF President, Pierre Gyselinck, underlined that EDF is representing 80 million citizens with disabilities across Europe; therefore the EU has the responsibility to take actions towards their full inclusion.

During the meeting, EDF and BDF stressed the importance of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) by the EU, calling for robust mechanisms to implement the UN CRPD, with the necessary financial and political support.

We also called for the adoption of an ambitious European Accessibility Act: “The promise of accessible goods and services for persons with disabilities has been delayed for too long now. We urge the Commission to make the European Accessibility Act a priority, and most importantly to consult persons with disabilities on the legislative text. Till now persons with disabilities have not been consulted; this is in direct conflict with the UN CRPD”, said EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis.

Commissioner Thyssen said that providing citizens with disabilities with equal access to goods and services across the EU is not just a priority, but also an obligation that the Commission will fulfill in consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities.

BDF stressed the necessity of the adoption of a European Mobility Card: “It’s a concrete step to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy freedom of movement on an equal basis with others”, said BDF General Secretary, Gisèle Marlière. Freedom of movement for persons with disabilities is a long standing concern of EDF: ‘All new measures the EU put in place, for example the Labour Mobility Package, or existing programmes, such as Erasmus, need to fully include person with disabilities’ added EDF Director, Catherine Naughton.

EDF and BDF underlined that the European Semester process should include recommendations which lead to proper implementation and monitoring of European Funds and should promote investments towards independent living and employment for persons with disabilities.

Commissioner Thyssen recognized also that the revision of the European Disability Strategy comes at an ideal time; the EU will receive concluding observations from the UN expert Committee on the CRPD, and will be able to use the upcoming Disability Action Plan as a means for implementing them.

The review of the Europe 2020 Strategy also provides an opportunity to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. At the same time, Commissioner Thyssen emphasised that the fight against poverty and discrimination is on top of the Commissions agenda. She said that we should join forces to achieve the goal of a society where people are not left behind.

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