Letter to Director of the Joint Research Centre - joint research centre's work on the impact of covid-19 on persons with disabilities

To: Mr Stephen Quest, Director of the Joint Research Centre, European Commission

CC: Commissioner Dalli, Commissioner for Equality; Commissioner Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Commissioner Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth; Emmanuelle Grange, Head of Unit, DG EMPL, Unit C3 for Disability and Inclusion

Dear Mr. Quest,

On behalf of the European Disability Forum (EDF), the umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities defending the rights of more than 100 million persons with disabilities in the European Union, I am writing to you to enquire about Joint Research Centre’s research on the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities.

Ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind is particularly important during this unprecedented time in our Union. This requires the European Union to collect data and present findings on the impact of COVID-19 specifically on persons with disabilities, in line with its obligations regarding article 31 (Statistics and data collection) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The European Union ratified the CRPD as a regional organisation, as did every EU member state.

It is in this context that we were disappointed to realise that the “Joint Research Centre Survey on COVID-19” does not ask any information at all about disability. As such, the findings will not provide an overview of the impact of the pandemic on persons with disabilities, one of the groups in our society most affected.

This is critical as there is already evidence to point to severe breaches of human rights of persons with disabilities and the CRPD, among which:

  • Accessibility – public health information at the EU and national level has not been made accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Access to health – triage measures have been put in place which discriminate and deny persons with disabilities their right to health on the basis of their disability.
  • Right to independent living– the situation of persons with disabilities in closed institutions has placed them at increased risk of infection and death.

We would therefore like to request a joint meeting with you or your CRPD or equality focal point to discuss how to best promote research that will support and advance the human rights of persons with disabilities.  It would also be an opportunity for you and your team to outline what support you would like to see from our organisations to achieve the best results in your work.

Yours sincerely,

Yannis Vardakastanis


European Disability Forum