On Thursday 5th March, representatives of the European Disability Forum (EDF), the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), Abilis Foundation and Bridging the Gap met with European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen. The Commissioner stated her commitment to inclusion and outlined her priorities in terms of international partnership, with actions on youth, and the future strategy with Africa key areas.
We emphasised our expectation for a strong EU leadership, and her leadership in particular, in promoting disability inclusive development, building on the progress achieved in the recent years.
We briefed the Commissioner on the priorities of the disability movement regarding international cooperation including:
- The opportunity of including robust actions on disability inclusive international cooperation, in the upcoming EU Disability Rights Agenda 2020-2030 (led by Commissioner Dalli, for adoption early next year)
- The need for a comprehensive policy for disability inclusive development, including a set of concrete actions at Brussels and EU Delegations levels- a Disability Action Plan
- Cooperation with persons with disabilities through their representative organisations, their partners and allies at EU level and in partner countries; EU cooperation can be more effective in leaving non-one behind, by drawing on the expertise of persons with disabilities in the EU and global south
- The important place women with disabilities should have in the EUs upcoming Gender Action Plan, and the importance of including youth with disabilities in her pioneering work on youth
- Strengthening the role and capacity of EU delegations in promoting inclusion and accessibility for persons with disabilities, including staff training.
Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, stated
“Empower persons with disabilities to advocate for themselves; they need to be at the table when decisions are taken. EU taxpayer’s money, should be used, all around the world to promote inclusion and equality, and never segregation. We look forward to cooperating with the Commissioner in all initiatives she will take to promote inclusive international partnerships.”
Dominic Haslam, Chair of the International Disability and Development Consortium highlighted
“the need for EU development cooperation investments to follow a twin-track approach to disability i.e. supporting disability-specific projects and also mainstreaming a disability-inclusive approach into all development programmes. A key step in achieving this will be the capacity-building of EU staff, at HQ as well as in EU delegations, through trainings designed in close collaboration with Disabled People’s Organisations and all relevant stakeholders.”