Common Provisions Regulation: encouraging steps towards disability-friendly EU funds

Common Provisions Regulation: encouraging steps towards disability-friendly EU funds

We welcome the agreement on parts of the text of a regulation that will apply to a number of key EU funds post-2021 (the Common Provisions Regulation 2021-2017), as it includes crucial articles to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. While the agreement is only partial and provisional, it is encouraging to see clear wording on provisions regarding accessibility, non-discrimination and divestment from institutional care (to name but a few). If the wording remains in the final text, it will be a powerful tool to reduce the misuse of funds and assist Member States in implementing the UN Convention on the UN Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The Common Provisions Regulation is an over-arching Regulation that applies to various EU funding programmes, including the European Social Fund + and the European Regional Development Fund. It outlines the rules that must be followed in the use of these funds.

An agreement on parts of the text was reached during negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament on the 11 December, with Member States giving their final approval on 18 December. However, several contentious areas of this Regulation remain open.

Among the areas where an agreement was reached, we see the following improvements to the Commission’s original proposal:

  • Inclusion of a new article on horizontal principles outlining that Member States and the Commission shall take appropriate steps to prevent any discrimination based on gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation during the preparation, implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of programmes;
  • Requirement that accessibility for persons with disabilities shall be a criteria in the selection of operations by managing authorities;
  • Requirements to includes civil society and NGOs in the partnership and multi-level governance process;
  • Strengthened “Horizontal Enabling Condition on the CRPD”, the article that governs how EU funds must comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities. The article that now specifies the need for a reporting mechanism to alert monitoring committees of any cases of non-compliance;

While this agreement is very positive, the road ahead remains long. As Croatia takes over the Presidency of the Council, agreements will need to be reached on some of the most contentious areas of the Common Provisions Regulation, as well as a number of other fund-specific regulations that we are closely monitoring.

We urge negotiators from the Parliament and the Member States to ensure that all of the agreements reached to date that protect the interests of persons with disabilities remain in the final text of the Common Provisions Regulation.

We also call on them to ensure that this progress is mirrored by a strong stance forbidding EU funds from going into institutional care settings, an area where we are yet to see an agreement between the Parliament and the Council.

Finally, we stress the need to uphold disability rights in the same way during the negotiations around fund-specific regulations such as the European Social Fund Plus, the Regional Development Fund and Erasmus+.