Persons with disabilities

Persons with disabilities represent 15% of the total EU population, reaching over 120 million Europeans by 2020. The EU and all its Member States need to ensure equal rights for persons with disabilities, as they ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, many Europeans with disabilities still, lack of equal opportunities, and face discrimination and segregation because of physical and attitudinal barriers. There is still no real equal access to education, employment, traveling, technologies or voting.

A non-discriminatory European Union that protects the rights of persons with disabilities

There are over 500,000 persons with disabilities in the EU who are deprived from their right to vote in the 2019 elections. Additionally, due to the lack of accessibility to information or the voting procedure, many more persons with disabilities will not be able to exercise their voting rights on equal basis with others.

Therefore, the upcoming European Parliament should re-establish a strong and active Disability Intergroup that pushes for a European legislation that ensure that all persons with disabilities will enjoy the possibility to vote and stand as candidates in the next European elections.

Besides, the European Parliament should promote the adoption of a European Disability Strategy 2020-2030 with a budget allocated for its implementation and a well-resourced monitoring mechanism. This Strategy must satisfy the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the Concluding Observations gave by the UNCRPD Committee to the EU in 2015. The Strategy should Involve all EU institutions, bodies and agencies in its implementation and monitoring.

Lastly, and more than 10 years after the publication of the proposal for a horizontal Equal Treatment Directive, the EU should finally adopt an anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of disability. Additionally, the European Parliament should make sure that the rights of women and girls with disabilities are taken into account in all legislative and administrative measures on gender equality, and that the EU ratifies and implements the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, including by prohibiting the practice of forced sterilisation of women with disabilities.

An EU that improves the living conditions of persons with disabilities and their families

The employment rate of persons with disabilities is 47% compared to 72% of their peers with disabilities. Equally, many children with disabilities cannot access inclusive education due to lack of personalised support. An unacceptable number of persons with disabilities, nearly 1.2 million in 25 Member States, still live in institutions, because the means to live independently in their community are not in place. For these reasons, the European Parliament should safeguard an adequate EU budget for Cohesion Policies, establish ambitious thematic concentrations within the fund-specific regulations to ensure money goes towards the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, and clear rules preventing the use of EU money for institutional care. Furthermore, all EU funded programmes should mantain the general principles of equality between men and women and non-discrimination, including the principle of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities and their representative organisations should be involved in all the initiatives derived from the European Pillar of Social Rights, and concrete action should be taken by the Commission in proposing legislation for the principles of the Pillar that still remain to be addressed. The European Parliament should support the establishment of a social protection floor to ensure to all persons with disabilities and their families an adequate and dignified standard of living. There should also be measures to include the employment of persons with disabilities in in all policies, programmes and legislation aimed at increasing the employment rate in the EU, in the open labour market, with a fair wage, reasonable accommodation, and access to an effective social protection system.

The European Parliament should also support initiatives aiming at the inclusive education of children and persons with disabilities in the general education system. Finally, the EU should adopt appropriate measures to make progress on the transition from institutional to community-based living, and in pushing for real community-based alternatives that are formed around the individual needs of people requiring support.

An accessible Europe that allows free movement

Only 0,17% persons with disabilities benefited from last Erasmus program. This is because lack of support and accessibility when traveling across Europe. This is why, the European Parliament should take measures allowing the portability of support services for persons with disabilities when studying or working in another EU country.

Furthermore, persons with disabilities experience different level of rights depending on the means of transport they want to use, especially if they need assistance to use that means of transport. Therefore, the European Parliament should push for stronger accessibility provisions in the EU legislation on passenger’s rights. Transport and the built environment are two areas in which the EU still needs to improve.

The European Parliament should ensure that all initiatives concerning Information and Communication Technologies, or the Digital Single Market, will include accessibility requirements, so current and future technological developments are designed for all and persons with disabilities are able to use and enjoy them on an equal basis with others.

The European Parliament should finally make an effort to lead by example and ensure that its facilities, procedures, documents, materials, EPTV, website, apps and any other new means of communication or information fully respect the state-of-the-art accessibility standards.

The On Our Watch project brings together Civil Society Organisations working on all kind of topics. As representatives of and in direct contact with citizens, organisations have a strong role to play in holding the European Parliament accountable to the public. By joining forces in the context of the #EUelections2019 (23-26 May), On Our Watch offers a comprehensive overview of the key issues that European citizens care about.

Want to join? Get in touch! Contact: christian.skriverik[@]  | Address: Place du Luxembourg 2, B-1050, Brussels | Phone: +32 2 508 30 83