A new strategy for persons with disabilities

17 May 2016
The panel of the hearing

Today, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organised a hearing on “A new strategy for persons with disabilities in Europe”. The hearing brought together representative organisations of persons with disabilities, specialised government agencies and EU institutions. EDF and several of its members presented their views on the development of a new strategy to promote, protect and monitor the rights of persons with disabilities in the EU.

In 2015, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities addressed a series of recommendations ("Concluding observations") to the EU, identifying measures to take to put the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) **into practice. A key recommendation is for the EU to adopt a UN CRPD strategy: a plan on how to put the UN CRPD in practice. This strategy has to have a budget, a timeframe, a monitoring mechanism and be developed in consultation with representative organisations of persons with disabilities.

The EESC has been very active in this. EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, in his capacity as member of the EESC, is writing an own initiative opinion calling for a new UN CRPD strategy. He highlighted the challenge and the opportunity faced by the EU Institutions today: “This is the first time the EU has committed to a human rights convention. It requires a new approach to disability policy making at the EU. We need a robust set of focal points in the EU institutions and a coordination mechanism to give a framework for working together. We have the opportunity, by implementing the UN’s recommendations to the EU, to create a new disability strategy, which has citizens at the centre”.

During the hearing, civil society and representative organisations of persons with disabilities expressed their views on this work. Several EDF members (Autism Europe, European Union of the Deaf, European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, European Network on Independent Living, Inclusion Europe, International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities), as well the International Disability and Development Consortium also presented their views on the need for a UN CRPD strategy.

The programme of the hearing is available on the EESC website

Follow what happened at the hearing via EDF and EESC twitter accounts: @MyEDF @EESC_SOC

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