EDF met Commissioner Thyssen on the UN’s Human Rights Recommendations

29 October 2015
EDF Director, Catherine Naughton, EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen

Today, EDF Executive Committee met the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen and engaged in an open and constructive dialogue on the rights of persons with disabilities. The meeting was timely since in August the EU was reviewed for the first time by the UN Committee on the work it has done to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Therefore, the discussion focused on the Concluding Observations that that UN has addressed to the EU and the next steps towards their implementation.

The Commissioner shared the European Commission’s priorities and listened to the priorities of the disability movement, in particular the need to include the perspective of persons with disabilities in the European Commission agenda on employment and education, fight against poverty, accessibility and European funds. With regards to European funds, the Commissioner underlined that, if needed, European funds will be suspended in case Member States do not respect the conditions agreed in the regulations.

Furthermore, Commissioner Thyssen confirmed that the Commission is taking stock of the implementation of the European Disability Strategy in the light of the UN’s Concluding Observations.

“The UN Concluding Observations to the EU require a new approach towards disability law and policy making. The EU has now a strong mandate to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. It has to make sure that especially in times of crisis –economic, migration, human rights crisis- nobody should be left or forgotten behind”, emphasised EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis.


During the meeting, Commissioner Thyssen confirmed that the long awaited European Accessibility Act is ready and will be discussed and possibly approved by the Collage of Commissioners on 2 December. Upon agreement, it can be published on 3 December, which is also the European Day of Persons with Disabilities. The Commissioner stressed the importance of the Accessibility Act in ensuring that innovative, affordable and accessible goods and services will be available for persons with disabilities in the EU internal market.

How broad the scope of the Act will be and the areas that will cover are still unknown. EDF has being long campaigning for a strong binding legislation with a broad scope that will bring a real change to the lives of 80 million people with disabilities. We are looking forward to seeing an ambitious legislation published and we are ready to engage in the legislative process.


EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, reminded the Commissioner of the commitment to have a new State of the Union on disability with the three Presidents of the EU institutions, as well as a meeting with the College of Commissioners and the Directors General to discuss the UN’s Concluding Observations. Commissioner Thyssen responded positively to these possibilities acknowledging that regular contact and close cooperation are necessary.


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