On 28 February 2020, members of the Executive Committee of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) as well as the European Disability Forum (EDF) met with representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General responsible for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO). Representatives from DG DEVCO included the Deputy Director-General, Marjeta Jager, as well as officials from the thematic and geographic directorates, representing a wide portfolio (budget, civil society, Africa, social protection, employment). They were: Doerthe Bosse (social protection), Camilla Hagström (employment), Marlene Holzner (civil society), Anna Kerkgyarto (civil society) Beata Plonka (employment), Javier Raya Aguado (budget) and Ana Torres Fraile (Africa).
The aim of the meeting was to discuss actions to ensure that persons with disabilities are involved in programmes and practices related to EU international aid, not only has beneficiaries, but as experts in their own rights.
During the meeting, Deputy Director-General Marjeta Jager affirmed DEVCO’s commitment to inclusion, non-discrimination and continued engagement with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations. Vladimir Cuk, the Director of IDA stated that recent years have seen genuine recognition of the importance on inclusion, with the UN Disability Strategy, IASC humanitarian Guidelines and UN Security Council Resolution on conflict situations as key examples of high level progress. He urged the EU to use this momentum to improve disability inclusion in their own policies and programmes.
Specific actions that representatives of IDA and EDF called for:
- An annual gathering with the disability movement and DEVCO
- The setting up of a helpdesk on disability inclusion, to support DEVCO staff
- Leadership from EUROSTAT with commitment to disaggregate data by disability
- The full utilisation of tools available such as the DAC Marker on disability and the Washington Group Set of Questions
- The inclusion of girls and women with disabilities in all programmes and projects, including the Spotlight Initiative
- Regular** consultation and meaningful collaboration** with the disability community (both in Brussels and with EU Delegations at country level)
- Greater EU leadership of the GLAD Network
- The training of all EU delegations in the world on disability inclusive international cooperatio
- Continued development of the EU-Africa strategic partnership
- Systematic inclusive practice in DEVCO policies and programmes
- A commitment to support in the planning and hosting of the next Global Disability Summit as well as the possibility to host a Global Disability Summit in the European Union.
DEVCO representatives highlighted the progress that has been made in EU-funded development programs, and the opportunities that exist for civil society to influence and endure effective implementation of future budgets. In particular, they mentioned the new programming guidelines which will soon define how international cooperation budget will be implemented. DEVCO representatives called for support in identifying examples of good practice and accessibility, and highlighted the opportunities presented by increasing use of technology.
EDF and IDA look forward to future cooperation in EU-funded international development, with meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities.