The 2030 Agenda as a positive narrative for the future of the EU

The 2030 Agenda as a positive narrative for the future of the EU

On 7 June 2017, the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament in collaboration with the European Disability Forum (EDF) gathered experts and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to talk about their role in realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the European level. The event was hosted by MEP Olga Sehnalová, co-President of the Disability Intergroup, which is a cross-party grouping of MEPs actively promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

The event brought together diverse speakers including:

  • Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum
  • Patrizia Heidegger; Director for Global Policies and Sustainability, SDG Watch Europe
  • MEP Elly Schlein, Rapporteur of the opinion “EU action for sustainability”
  • Victoria Lee, Programme Manager, United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
  • Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission – DG EMPL
  • Alicia Martin-Diaz, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission – DG DEVCO
  • Dr Marleen De Smedt, Advisor to the Director General, EUROSTAT
  • Berhanu Tefera, Program Assistant & Interim Coordinator, African Disability Forum
  • Orsolya Bartha, 2030 Agenda Senior Advisor, International Disability Alliance
  • Catherine Naughton, Director of the European Disability Forum

Around 70 participants from Europe and Africa gathered to listen to the speakers with overviews of the SDGs in Africa, Europe and the global level. MEPs Schlein and Sehnalová also presented what could be achieved by the European Parliament to actively include persons with disabilities, speakers from DG EMPL, DG DEVCO and EUROSTAT presented their work at the European Commission. Inmaculada.Placencia-Porrero from DG EMPL explained that the commission doesn’t receive any guidance on how to implement the SDGs for persons with disabilities. The presentations showcased a real need for more awareness about the necessity to include persons with disabilities by European policy-makers in the SDGs but also** more guidance by organisations of persons with disabilities** to support policy-makers. Speakers agreed that if persons with disabilities and other groups at risk of marginalisation are not actively included in the 2030 Agenda, the EU is a set to fail before even starting.

Building on the speakers’ presentations, here are a number of recommendations worth highlighting.


  • The EU must publish an overarching EU strategy/framework to promote political coherence and coordination, actively included persons with disabilities and other groups at risk of marginalisation
  • The EU must be a leader with a clear and inclusive 2030 Agenda implementation plan, with targets and a timeline
  • The human rights agenda, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, must be reflected in all regional and national work to align to the 2030 Agenda
  • The EU must invest in capacity-building and awareness-raising so European citizens know about the SDGs
  • The EU must report its progress to the High Level Political Forum with the submission of a Voluntary National Review
  • The EU must work on all the goals and not cherry-pick among them


  • The 2030 Agenda and persons with disabilities must be reflected in EU polices including:

-the European Pillar of Social Rights

-Juncker’s white paper

-Europe 2020

-The European Semester

-The Annual Growth Survey

-The next European Disability Strategy

  • The EU must pressure European Member States to implement the 2030 Agenda and to include persons with disabilities in development plans
  • The persons with disabilities must be included in the “EU action for sustainability” text which is being prepared by the EP’s committees
  • Every new and current policy must have a sustainability check, including the new EU budget
  • The link between the SDGs and the UNCRPD must be translated into guidance for policy makers
  • The new European Consensus on Development must be implemented


  • The SDGs must be included in the new European budget
  • Disability must be a marker in the new EU budget to understand how much money is spent in this field


  • The EU must have a clear focal point/coordination mechanism to ensure 2030 Agenda’ strategies are mainstreamed in programmes and policies
  • Persons with disabilities must be included in the new EU Multi-Stakeholder platform
  • Civil society must break down silo and collaborate together for stronger advocacy
  • Civil society must work together with national governments and European institutions
  • Companies and allies have to engage and be held accountable in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda
  • Consultation and participation with organisations of persons with disabilities must be systematic

Goals and indicators

  • Homelessness must be tackled with EU indicators in the new EU-SDG goals
  • Civil society must be included to support getting new or complicated data
  • Data disaggregation by disability for the EU goals 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality) and 8 (decent work and economic growth) must be included in the new EU-SDGs set of indicators
  • Disability data must be disaggregated by type using the Washington Group set of questions
  • Data must be collected on people living in institutions
  • Data must be collected using new methods and sources