European Union’s Disability Inclusiveness Highlights

The Directorate General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) has made rapid strides to strengthen its work on disability inclusion during the last three years. If it follows through on this momentum with further improvements to incentives and reporting, and ensures its ambitions on engagement with organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) are consistently actioned throughout its delivery chains, then it would be well placed to become one of the leaders in this area in the future.

The Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) already demonstrates some good practice in disability inclusion, notably through its policy on accessibility in procurement. But if DG INTPA is to live up to the strong vision for disability inclusion set out in the European Consensus on Development, its internal incentives and its external engagement with DPOs would be among the many important areas to focus on.

Current Strengths:

  • The European Disability Strategy (2010-2020) includes external action (which covers international cooperation and humanitarian action) as one of its eight ‘areas of activity’.
  • The European Commission is a member of the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network.
  • DPOs were consulted on the development of the guidance note on humanitarian action at the global policy level (although it is not clear whether this included DPOs from the Global South).

Areas to Improve:

  • DG INTPA & DG ECHO do not budget for disability inclusion in their work.
  • The EU does not yet have a stand-alone strategy or action plan on disability in international cooperation and humanitarian action.
  • Studies have raised concerns that tools on human rights did not include enough disability-specific content, and that training was not extensive enough to give staff an understanding of how to mainstream disability in practice.

Advocacy Questions

  • DG INTPA has one full-time employee responsible for promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities, out of a total of over 3000. Does it have plans to increase this?
  • How might DG INTPA strengthen its process for reviewing programme proposals and applications for funding, in order to ensure all proposals are disability-inclusive?
  • Will DG ECHO require [not just encourage] its implementing partners to engage meaningfully with DPOs?
  • DG ECHO’s Humanitarian Implementation Plans now include requirements on disability. Has DG ECHO assessed how far these requirements are consistently translating into disability inclusive interventions on the ground?

More Information – EU Factsheet [12 KB doc]