Disability Intergroup: a retrospective of the 2021 intergroup achievements on disability rights

Disability Intergroup: a retrospective of the 2021 intergroup achievements on disability rights

Since its creation in 1980, the Disability Intergroup has had an instrumental role in advocating for and advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe. Last year, this grouping of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has been working on topics related to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, such as the European Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030, the Horizontal Antidiscrimination Directive, political participation and right to vote, among others. In 2021, the Disability Intergroup’s work also focused on a disability-inclusive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on mainstreaming disability rights in key legislations, and promoting the adoption of inclusive social policies. We summarised for you the Disability Intergroup’s main and most impactful actions of 2021.


5 key achievements

The work of the Disability Intergroup members resulted in several achievements, including:

  1. The adoption of the Rail Passengers Rights regulation, which reduces the pre-notification to request assistance in stations to 24 hours
  2. The Intergroup managed to incorporate an amendment to the Regulation setting out the COVID-19 Digital Pass to ensure it will be accessible to persons with disabilities
  3. The adoption of the report about the implementation of the 2000 Equality Employment Directive in line with the UN CRPD
  4. The adoption of the Structural Funds regulations (European Structural and Investment Funds, European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund) which include provisions related to non-discrimination, and accessibility and independent living for persons with disabilities
  5. The European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) proposal for a new EU electoral law, which was adopted by the European Parliament in May 2022, and guarantees the right to vote to all persons with disabilities, and ensures more accessible EU elections.


Joint and individual statements and letters

In 2021, the Disability Intergroup published 3 statements on strengthening the EU Disability Rights Strategy, the inaccessibility of the State of the European Union, the European Day of persons with disabilities, and the inaccessibility of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Disability Intergroup also sent 7 joint letters to the European Parliament’s (EP) Secretary-General calling for the creation of a focal point, to the Vice President Papadimoulis (chair of the EP Bureau High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity) to participate in discussions and actions making the Parliament more inclusive to persons with disabilities, to the European Commission Vice President Jourová, and Commissioner Reynders on the COVID-19 Digital Green Certificate, to Commissioner Urpilainen on disability matters in EU external actions, and to the Committee of Bioethics of the Council of Europe stating their opposition to the additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention, among others.


Meetings, events, workshops, and public hearings

Whether they were hosts, co-organisers, or participants, the Disability Intergroup and its Members have been actively involved in internal and public European events on disability issues. In 2021, they were involved in a dozen of events addressing, for example, the European Disability Rights Strategy, EU International Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, the fulfilment of the CRPD Committee 2015 Concluding Observations to the EU, or the Digital Services Act. The Disability Intergroup also engaged and discussed with disability rights experts during European Parliament’s hearing on COVID-19 in residential institutions calling for the creation of the COVID-19 special committee, and took part in other events such as the European Youth Event on independent living event, the policy webinar about inclusive labour market for persons with disabilities, the webinar on inclusive enterprises, or the European Parliament debate on the employment of autistic people which took place in plenary.


Parliamentary questions

In 2021, Members of the Disability Intergroup submitted a high number of parliamentary questions on various topics, including quality employment and discrimination, the accessibility of the Conference on the Future of Europe), accessibility of the COVID-19 digital certificate, the gender perspective of the Disability Strategy, the situation of girls and women with disabilities, individualised learning path for students with disabilities education , and the exclusion of students with disabilities from PISA tests, and many more.


Reports and amendments

In 2021, Members of the Intergroup were also very active in the drafting of key reports regarding persons with disabilities, such as the implementation of the employment Directive in line with the CRPD, the protection of persons with disabilities through petitions, the EU Pharmaceutical Strategy, the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health, inclusiveness and non-discrimination in education, the report about the EU Humanitarian Action, or the decent and affordable housing for all.

If you wish to read in more details about the Disability Intergroup’s work and achievements in 2021, download and read the full report (word document).