Latvian EU Presidency holds ministerial meeting on the implementation of the UN Convention in the EU

11 May 2015
EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis in the panel (in the centre)

EDF urges for regular ministerial meetings on the rights of persons with disabilities

Today in Riga, the Latvian Presidency of the EU organised a High level Meeting on Disability focusing on inclusive education and inclusive employment of persons with disabilities. During the meeting, a ministerial discussion took place in order to identify accomplishments resulted from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the EU and the challenges ahead. EDF and its members are present in Riga to contribute to the discussion and express the views of persons with disabilities.

The aim of the ministerial discussion was to identify the achievements and challenges that member states have to overcome to move towards a Europe free from barriers and obstacles. The meeting also targeted to define which measures at EU level have successfully supplemented endeavours by member states and need to be improved in the future.

Although education is one of the main preconditions for employment quality, inclusive education for persons with disabilities is still far from being a reality. “Young people across Europe face phenomenal levels of unemployment, and young people with disabilities are much more likely to be unemployed. Exclusion from the labour market is growing. Access to decent work within the EU is decreasing. Education services are under resourced and are not inclusive. Vocational training as a preparation for the labour market is not available to the majority of persons with disabilities”, said EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis.

EDF President also expressed the hope of the disability movement that the upcoming Presidencies of the EU Council will follow the good example of the Latvian Presidency and will organise regular ministerial meetings on the rights of persons with disabilities. This is essential to ensure a coordinated approach from the EU institutions and member states all of whom have signed the UN Convention.

“This is the year that the UN Committee will review the work that the EU has done to implement the UN Convention. The Concluding Observations of the UN Committee will be adopted on 3 September 2015 and should be high on the agenda of the next EU Presidency since they will serve as a basis for disability policy in the EU and at Member State level for the coming months and years”, emphasised Yannis Vardakastanis.

80 million persons with disabilities in Europe expect that the EU will take important steps this year to fulfil their commitment to the UN Convention. The EU is expected to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and the European Accessibility Act. These pieces of legislation are critical for the access of European women, men and children with disabilities to schools and work.

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