During this week’s Plenary, MEP Katrin Langensiepen presented a report taking stock of the implementation of Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment in light of the UN CRPD. Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli participated in the debate about the report aiming at promoting equal opportunities within the labour market for persons with disabilities. The report was greatly supported by most political groups, and was adopted by 578 MEPs in favour, 65 against, and 51 abstentions.
In a tweet leading up to the Plenary debate, MEP Langensiepen, who is also a co-chair of the Disability Intergroup, stated, “We demand an end to exclusionary practices, alternatives to sheltered workshops, and strong diversity quotas.” Emphasising this further during her presentation, she asserted the essentiality to now include and protect persons with disabilities in the labor market, citing years of inaction to do so, despite of being bound by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
During the preparation of this report, MEP Langensiepen consulted EDF and many other representative organisations of persons with disabilities, and thanked them at her intervention in the plenary discussion. In its explanatory memorandum, the report includes an easy-to-read version too.
Offering a personal anecdote of the difficulties of entering the workforce as a woman with a disability herself, she called on Parliament to finally implement “real measures” so that all people are able to enter into and move freely within the labor market.
Echoing Lagenseipen’s sentiment, Commissioner Dalli expanded on the provisions included within the proposed Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030, including continued support to the implementation of the Employment Equality Directive, while also emphasising the promotion of educational and training opportunities and the provision of reasonable accommodation within the work place. She also addressed existing shortcomings within the EU, including low sanction levels for violations of human rights policy and the existing legal framework, and the fact that there is no requirement for an equality body to ensure commitment to equality within each Member State. In closing she committed the Commission as an institution to leading the way in the implementation of this framework, assuring that there would be direct efforts to be more inclusive in hiring persons with disabilities as well as ensuring all Commission buildings are accessible, as stated in the new Disability Rights Strategy.
MEP Langensiepen’s report was largely supported by the major political groups, many of whom echoed calls to let persons with disabilities enter the labour market freely and accessibly. Rapporteur for opinion the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut motioned for the emphasis on the fact that women with disabilities are disproportionately affected by poverty and unemployment, calling for the equal inclusion of women and girls in educational and training programs and job opportunities, which was largely supported. Other motions including a call for oversight on the proper implementation of these policies in Member States and an emphasis on labour market inclusion for persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 recovery timeline, as well as the call from the Civil Liberties committee to Member States to unblock the discussions for an Equal Treatment Directive in other fields beyond employment.