International Disability Day: A turning point for disability rights in Europe

The pandemic has wreaked havoc for the millions of persons with disabilities in Europe. But after a devastating year, the next EU budget and the new Disability Rights Strategy bring hope.

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the European Parliament Disability Intergroup would like to pay a well-deserved tribute to the millions of persons with disabilities in Europe who have suffered the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our hearts are with the families and friends of persons with disabilities who have passed away; with those who live in residential institutions; with those who did not receive proper health care when needed; with those who were deprived from their support network; with those who had no alternative but to keep working or studying; with those who suffered violence and were left poverty stricken, and with those who, still today, are left in isolation.

For centuries, persons with disabilities have been segregated, discriminated against, and only in recent years have their rights started to be recognised.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a stark reminder of how far we are from realising the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

As this very difficult year draws to a close, the European Union has the possibility to change this situation: the next EU budget is being negotiated and the European Commission is now preparing a new Disability Rights Strategy for the next decade.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has been a stark reminder of how far we are from realising the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”

In this turning point for our Union, the Disability Intergroup calls on colleagues at the European Parliament, the Member States and Council, and the European Commission to take a strong stand for the rights of the 100 million people with disabilities.

The EU money made available for the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must have a strong focus on taking people with disabilities out of poverty and social exclusion. EU funds must therefore be invested in ensuring non-discrimination and equal opportunities regardless of the type of disability.

They must be used to provide an inclusive open labour market, inclusive education, accessibility, freedom of movement, and transition from institutional care in closed settings to independent living in the community.

Health policies and their funding have never been so critical, and all EU countries must ensure persons with disabilities have equal access to public health information and treatment.

Persons with disabilities, along with their support networks, must have access to priority groups for vaccination, when their health or living conditions make them more vulnerable to the virus.

“Health policies and their funding have never been so critical, and all EU countries must ensure persons with disabilities have equal access to public health information and treatment”

The upcoming EU Disability Rights Strategy must guide us all in promoting and guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life.

The EU needs a strong and ambitious set of initiatives with clear targets and timelines. To make this a reality, effective governance and monitoring mechanisms must be put in place with the necessary human and financial resources.

In this regard, coordination among the different EU institutions through CRPD focal points is of the utmost importance.

The European Parliament Disability Intergroup recalls the Parliament resolution on the post-2020 Disability Strategy, and will remain active and vigilant to ensure that the work of this chamber reflects the interests and needs of persons with disabilities.

We will continue to do so in collaboration with disability organisations across Europe, and we will make sure that nobody in the EU institutions ever again ignores persons with disabilities.

 

Chairs of the Intergroup:

Ádám Kósa (EPP)

Mónica Silvana González (S&D)

Radka Maxová (Renew Europe)

Katrin Langensiepen (Greens/EFA)

José Gusmão (GUE/NGL)

Vice-Chairs of the Intergroup:

Stelios Kympouropoulos (EPP)

Brando Benifei (S&D)

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (Renew Europe)

Tilly Metz (Greens/EFA)

Anne-Sophie Pelletier (GUE/NGL)

Rosa Estaràs-Ferragut (EPP)

Marianne Vind (S&D)

Dragos Pîslaru (Renew Europe)

Giorgos Georgiou (GUE/NGL)

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