On July the 8th, the European Disability Forum held the webinar “COVID-19 recovery and the EU Budget: influencing the process”. The European Commission launched on May 27th in its new proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework a recovery instrument called Next Generation EU, which aims at complementing the major recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haydn Hammersley is EDF Social Policy Officer. He gave an overview about the Multiannual Financial Framework and the EU plan for COVID-19 recovery.
Yannis Vardakastanis spoke as EDF President and President of the National Confederation of Disabled People of Greece (NCDP), the umbrella organisation representing the disability movement in Greece. The NCDP fights for the rights of persons with disabilities and their families at national level. He explained how Greece was trying to influence in the use of EU funds. “The issue is not technocratic, the issue is not technical. This is a real political issue”, he said referring to the recovery plan.
María Tussy-Flores is Head of the European Programmes Unit from ONCE Foundation. This foundation, born from Spanish Organisation for the Blind (ONCE) provides support to all persons with disabilities throughout employment programmes and trainings. She sent a video message talking about how Spanish organisations are influencing the EU funds in Spain. “European networks such as Disability Hub Europe are helping to put disability on the top of the European agendas regarding the SDG and 2030 agenda, and CSR policies and nonfinancial reporting of companies”, she stressed.
Elisabeth Gosme, President of COFACE Families Europe is member of the European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community-based care (EEG). The EEG is a coalition of stakeholders representing people with care or support needs including children, people with disabilities, people experiencing mental health problems, families, people experiencing homelessness, as well as service providers, public authorities and intergovernmental organisations. She spoke about the statement published by the EEG on 24th April about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons living in institutions. She underlined that “more adequate funding to the social and care sectors is needed as well as support to family and carers, they can prevent an increase in institutionalization and prevent the worse conditions of those who are living in residential segregated settings.”
Katrin Langensiepen is Member of the European Parliament and one of the Chairs of the Disability Intergroup. She is a member of the Alliance of the Greens EFA, a political group in the European Parliament. She explained her work regarding a parliament report on REACT-EU. “REACT-EU should not support any action that contributes to segregation or to social exclusion”. She claimed.
Stefan Tromel is Senior Disability Specialist of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This United Nations agency advocates for international labour standards and promotes rights and social justice at work. He described the complementarity between the EU and the UN focusing on employment and social protection. “We need that closer collaboration between EU external action and the activities of the UN.”
The main objectives of the webinar were the following:
- To understand better the new proposal for the EU budget for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework
- To illustrate with the concrete examples of Greece an Spain how national organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and civil society organisations in general can use these EU funds
- To highlight the need for more complementarity between the EU and the UN