Persons with disabilities included in the new EU consensus for development

Persons with disabilities included in the new EU consensus for development

On 19 May 2017, the Council adopted a new European Consensus on Development. This joint statement by the three European institutions (European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council) sets out a new framework for development cooperation for the European Union (EU) and its Member States. The document is a direct response by the EU to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed in September 2015 by 193 Word leaders.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) welcomes the document as it brings a new shift with a true inclusion of persons with disabilities and a real policy effort to implement and monitor the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The new EU Consensus for Development reinforces the commitment made in the 2030 Agenda and in the Progress Report on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy to engage actively in disability-inclusive development to reach the furthest at risk of marginalisation while promoting, protecting and fulfilling human rights for all. The Consensus is a clear and positive response to the Concluding observations on the initial report of the EU by the CRPD Committee in 2015, who recommended a “systematic approach to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in all EU international cooperation policies and programmes” and for the EU to “take the lead in the implementation of disability-inclusive Sustainable Development Goals” (page 10).

In November 2016, EDF along with allies sent a letter to Mr Neven Mimica, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, to specifically ask for the EU to establish a policy framework for the implementation of the CRPD in its development cooperation. We urged Commissioner Mimica to ensure persons with disabilities were fully included in the EU Consensus on Development and to make specific reference to mainstreaming the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities. We are pleased to have been heard.

We note, however, that data disaggregation by disability has not been included in the document and this is not in line with the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)]( Revised List of global SDG indicators.pdf) where it is clearly stated that the “indicators should be disaggregated, where relevant, by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location” (introduction). We insist on the fact that data is vital to include persons with disabilities or they will remain at risk of being left behind and invisible in international cooperation programmes.

Finally, EDF would like to share its concerns about the overall trend of the document which focuses on security, migration control and collaboration with the private sector in areas like health for instance (paragraph 53). EDF would like to reiterate the necessity to engage in the vision of the 2030 Agenda which is to mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

For information, the seven references to disability in the new EU Consensus for Development are:

  • Paragraph 16 on human rights (page 6): “The EU and its Member States will continue to play a key role in ensuring that no one is left behind wherever people live and regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and gender identity, migration status or other factors.”
  • Paragraph 30 on leaving no one behind (page 11): “In line with the principle of leaving no one behind, the EU and its Member States will give special attention to those who are in disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised situations including children, older persons, persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons and indigenous peoples.”
  • Paragraph 31 on disability (page 11): “An estimated one billion people across the globe have a disability, of whom 80% live in developing countries. People with disabilities are often the poorest in their communities, facing significantly higher levels of stigma and discrimination. The EU and its Member States will take into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities in their development cooperation. In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, they will vigorously promote the rights of persons with disabilities and take stronger measures to ensure their full inclusion in society and their equal participation in the labour market.”