UN examined how EU supports the rights of persons with disabilities

31 August 2015
The delegation of the European disability movement in Geneva

Last week, EDF and its members were in Geneva and took part in the examination of the EU by the UN Expert Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Committee held a Constructive Dialogue with the EU delegation on the EU’s work on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), the first international human rights treaty ever ratified by the EU. On Thursday, 3 September the UN Committee will adopt its recommendations for the EU and set the EU agenda for the next years for the human rights of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe.

EDF was present with many of its European members in Geneva . The EDF delegation consisted of Autism Europe, Inclusion Europe, European Network of (Ex-)Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Mental Health Europe, European Network on Independent Living, CBM / IDDC, European Federation of Hard of Hearing People, International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and the European Union of the Deaf.


EDF and members held a side event on 27 August before the start of the EU Constructive Dialogue. EDF and its members presented the priorities on the implementation of the CRPD in Europe and answered to the many questions of the UN Committee members.

The constructive dialogue started on Thursday 27 August in the afternoon and continued on Friday morning on 28 August. The EU delegation consisted of Michel Servoz, Director-General of the Commission’s DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and his colleagues of the UN CRPD focal point of the European Commission, the Disability Unit of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. 20 representatives out of the 28 Member States of the EU were also present as observers.


Many UN Committee members questioned the EU delegation on its composition and on the absence of representatives of the other EU institutions, in particular DG Justice, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. During the dialogue, the Committee posed deep questions on EDF and members’ priority issues such as the revision and transformation of the European Disability Strategy into a comprehensive strategy to implement the CRPD across all EU institutions and Member states, the need for a structured dialogue with DPOs in EU decision making, and the need for a CRPD compliant focal point and EU monitoring framework, and the absence of an EU inter-institutional coordination mechanism to implement the CRPD. The Committee also had many questions and comments on the use of the EU funds, the absence of comprehensive equal treatment legislation and the European Accessibility Act. EDF members brought in the perspective of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, hard of hearing and deaf persons and expertise on health, international cooperation, and independent living, amongst others.

The EU Monitoring Framework had also the opportunity for a private briefing with the UN CRPD Committee ahead of the dialogue and presented their views on the EU review during the constructive dialogue.


Earlier last week, on Tuesday 25 August, EDF organised another side event on women and girls with disabilities. Rosa Estaras, member of the European Parliament and EDF Vice President, Gunta Anca, spoke on the discrimination and challenges that women and girls with disabilities face today in Europe. EDF’s top three priorities on women and girls with disabilities were all discussed during the constructive dialogue: ratification by the EU of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on violence against women, and the inclusion of the perspectives of women and girls with disabilities in the Commission’s post 2015 strategy on gender equality and the recently published road map ‘New start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families ’.

EDF Director, Catherine Naughton, also spoke at IDDC side event on 26 August on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the EU’s work on humanitarian aid and international cooperation.


Now we are waiting to see the final report and the recommendations of the UN CRPD Committee. This report will be discussed and adopted on Thursday 3 September. It will contain recommendations for the EU on how to improve its work on the UN CRPD and will form the basis for EDF, its members and the EU institutions’ work for the coming years on the rights of persons with disabilities.

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