The Council of the European Union held a meeting of its Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs ministers configuration (EPSCO) on 16 June in Luxembourg. The French Presidency included a debate about Employment for Persons with Disabilities, in particular the upcoming Employment Package, and invited EDF to give the introductory remarks of the discussion.
It is not common for Civil Society organisations to be invited to directly address the Ministers, an excellent progress that demonstrates how Member States are considering more and more the significance of taking into account the voice of persons with disabilities. This value was as well highlighted by the participation of Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, and by the feedback every Member State gave to the discussion – it was the most commented agenda item in this meeting.
Ministers debated how to increase the employment rate of persons with disabilities, removing obstacles to the hiring of people with disabilities and to act through effective measures to promote their professional inclusion. This debate supports the future measures the Commission will propose in September within the Employment Package.
Albert Prevos, member of the EDF Executive Committee, presented the general context of employment for persons with disabilities in the EU, highlighting the most pressing needs and problems found both at Member State and EU level.
After detailing how the existing and future measures will support the inclusion process, he explained that it is of the utmost importance that Member States “support the implementation of the existing measures and fill the gaps of the Employment Package.” These measures will not provide results unless Member States take appropriate steps towards solving the current obstacles, and, besides them, many obstacles will need to be further confronted, as they fall outside the fields covered by the current measures. Hence, he explained that “we need to tackle the numerous other structural inefficiencies that still hinder the development of a truly inclusive European labour market”, such as:
- set up mutual recognition of the status of persons with disabilities between the Member States, with guaranteed coverage of the costs related to the disability, to allow freedom of movement for workers with disabilities in the European Union,
- focus on the quality of the jobs created, and not exclusively on employment rates, on the quantitative aspect,
- guarantee a minimum wage and equal rights for workers in sheltered environments,
- launch programs to encourage the activity of persons with disabilities currently considered inactive, but who could benefit from access to the ordinary labor market,
- make employers more aware of the rules for hiring and the potential of workers with disabilities, by eliminating the unfounded stigmatization they still face in terms of abilities and attendance.
Find the video of the meeting and the intervention of Board member, Albert Prevos.
Álvaro Couceiro – Social Policy Officer