Disability Movement and European Parliament agree: next Disability Strategy needs new approach

The European Parliaments resolution adopted yesterday by an overwhelming majority of parliamentarians (653 votes in favour, 6 against, and 29 abstentions) reinforces our position on the EU’s future disability strategy. The Commission must now prepare an ambitious European Disability Strategy taking also into consideration the Parliament’s resolution.

The new Commission has already given greater importance and visibility to disability rights by establishing, in 2019, for the first time, a Commissioner for Equality. Commissioner Helena Dalli now leads the EU’s work on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and has committed to adopting a strengthened disability strategy.

EDF believes that this strategy should be framed as a European Disability Rights Agenda and should be adopted this year. We expect a strategy with measurable commitments, better policy coordination and increased human and financial resources to implement it.

We are glad to confirm that the Parliament agrees with us in the following points:

  • The establishment of disability focal points in all Commission Directorate Generals and Agencies, and in all EU institutions. The main disability focal point should be in the Commission’s Secretary General, to reflect the transversality of disability issues. Adequate resources should be allocated to these services
  • The next strategy should include actions to guarantee a decent standard of living, with access to inclusive education, social inclusion and independent living in the community, employment and social protection.
  • In this same line, the Parliament proposes the creation of a new Disability Rights Guarantee ensuring work, internships, apprenticeships or training for persons with a disability seeking employment.
  • Freedom of movement, to live, work, travel and study in the EU, and to vote and stand for EU elections, as all other EU citizens. The Parliament also supports further work in this regard such as the extension of the EU Disability Card, and strengthening rights of passengers with disabilities.
  • On accessibility, the Parliament proposes the establishment of an EU Access Board, a new EU agency to underpin, monitor and enforce EU accessibility legislation and standards.
  • To promote equality for persons with disabilities in all fields, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, and guaranteed equal opportunities, protection against discrimination, violence and abuse. This includes to unblock the negotiations concerning the horizontal Equal Treatment Directive.
  • To ensure the inclusion of a gender-based and intersectional approach to combat the multiple forms of discrimination faced by women and girls with disabilities. The Parliament insists that gender-disaggregated data should be collected.
  • A guarantee that disability is included in all policies and programmes in the COVID-19 Recovery plan for Europe, the Parliament also calls on the Commission to propose relevant and specific recovery and mitigation measures for the pandemic’s impact on persons with disabilities in the post-2020 strategy.
  • On EU budget, the Commission must safeguard the CRPD-compliant use of EU funds ensuring that these do not contribute to the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities, but to inclusive and accessible environments.
  • The EU to assume a global leadership role in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities at the UN level and in all its international cooperation strategies, policies and programmes, including humanitarian action.
  • The fulfilment of the EU’s obligations under the CRPD as public administration.
  • The Parliament recognises the need for the EU institutions, and particularly the Commission in this case, to involve persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the preparation of the next EU Disability Strategy.
  • They need to involve us early and in all phases of the process. Only by doing so can the Strategy benefit persons with disabilities.

Download the resolution (provisional version) in Word and in PDF.