European Disability Rights Agenda 2020

The European Disability Strategy is a plan created by the European Union.

It shows how the European Union wants to advance the rights of persons with disabilities in the next 10 years.

It lists EU laws, programmes, and actions and how they will improve the rights of persons with disabilities;

Why is it important?

The EU will use the Strategy to guide its work. That means that if something is in the Strategy, the EU commits to doing it. This is important because the EU has the power to decide many things that affect us: for example rules on products and services or on travel. The EU also has funds that can be used to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.

What are some of the initiatives?

Some of the initiatives include:

  • An EU-wide Disability Card in 2023to facilitate the free movement of persons with disabilities.
  • The creation of an “AccessibleEU” resource centre by 2022. This resource centre will help exchange good practices on accessibility.
  • A guide of good electoral practices to ensure political rights of persons with disabilities in 2023.
  • The preparation of independent living guidancefor Member States in 2023.
  • A quality framework for social services to persons with disabilities in 2024.
  • The Disability Platform, which brings together responsible bodies at national and EU level to implement this Strategy
  • A initiative to increase the employment of persons with disabilities within the EU institutions.

You can read the full Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

What do we think about it?

We are happy that this Strategy is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We also welcome the commitment to make the European Commission itself more accessible and inclusive of persons with disabilities.

We are disappointed with the lack of actions addressing the rights and needs of women and girls with disabilities, particularly actions addressing violence against women and girls with disabilities.

We are also disappointed to see a lack of binding legislation (laws to improve disability rights). In particular we would like to see legislation addressing the discrimination of persons with disabilities.

We expected a stronger commitment regarding investment of EU Funds, especially in using funds in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We believe that some initiatives could be further improved:

  • The Disability Platform shows great promise but will need to be transparent and include organisations of persons with disabilities.
  • The EU Disability Card should cover a maximum of benefits, including mutual recognition of social security benefits.
  • The “AccessibleEU” resource center falls short of a new EU agency on accessibility (the EU Access Board).
  • The guide of good electoral practice needs to be completed by amending the Electoral Law to ensure the right to vote of all persons with disabilities.
  • We hope to see clear indicators on employment of persons with disabilities. We expect both quantitative indicators and also on the quality of employment of persons with disabilities.
  • The action on training for Special Needs Teachers should focus on training teachers in mainstream education settings on how to offer inclusive classroom learning
  • The recognition of the specific situation of persons with disabilities experiencing multiple forms of discrimination on the grounds of, for instance, their gender, age, sexual orientation or ethnic background, would also need to be better reflected and addressed through targeted actions.

The Strategy is missing a CRPD focal unit. This service should be placed at high level in the European Commission. It would serve to coordinate the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

You can read a full summary of our reaction.

What is EDF doing on it?

After an intense  advocacy campaign to influence the strategy, we are now sharing the strategy with other organisations:

  • On an event of the Belgian Disability Forum (Belgium), Ieder(in) (Netherlands), CERMI (Spain) and Disability Federation Ireland.
  • We also presented the Strategy to the European Platform of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind persons.

We prepared the summary of EDF’s first reaction

We gave recommendations to the European Commission on the new Disability Platform.

We are also closely following the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on the Strategy.

We follow closely the implementation of the Strategy.