Happy Inclusive & Accessible 2015

15 December 2014
Drawing of figures of people in a community, a Christmas tree and the message: "Happy inclusive and accessible 2015"

In 2014, the European Union has crossed a critical year for the future of all Europeans, including persons with disabilities. The renewal of the EU institutions mainly the European Parliament, European Commission and the leadership of the Council has brought to us a new political environment. The European Union leaders and institutions finally realized that there is no future for the EU without the inclusion of all its citizens; the increase of abstention in EU elections and the growing Euroscepticism is the proof. Moreover, 2014 has become a year to understand the human rights’ crisis for persons with disabilities as a major impact of the global financial crisis.

Looking ahead, in 2015, the European Union will face the most critical year in the last decade in regard to the human rights of persons with disabilities. It will be a year in which we will know the recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the situation of persons with disabilities in Europe. Our specific strategy, the European Disability Strategy, will be reviewed in the framework of the review of critical comprehensive EU policies such as the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Semester and a new internal market strategy for goods and services, just to mention a few. 2015 will be a year to review but also to deliver; disability should not be forgotten in the Investment plan for Europe and the long awaited European Accessibility Act and the Article 19 directive need to move forward as well. At international level, the agreement on the future post 2015 Development framework should not forget disability again, the EU is a key player in this regard.

We cannot forget, that still in 2014 and 2015, basic human rights of persons with disabilities remain unsolved in Europe, persons living in institutions and in cage beds require immediate action from public authorities and providers of this type of services. EDF will continue working to create appropriate legal instruments (such as Structural Funds) and denouncing all these dramatic cases of violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities until they are eradicated.

EDF will also strengthen, in 2015, its secretariat capacity with a new director starting in 2015 , it will bring new leadership to the secretariat to face the challenges in front of us. I wish her success with all the work towards the achievement of EDF goals.

Let me thank you all for the unity and strength that the European disability movement has been able to show and for your continuous support in 2014. 2015 will certainly bring new challenges for the disability movement in Europe.

Best wishes for Christmas and New Year!

Yannis Vardakastanis EDF President

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