Report: One third of people with a disability at risk of social exclusion in EU

Nearly one third of people with a disability are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, according to a new report.

Marianne Thyssen | Photo credit: European Commission audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

02 Feb 2017

This is one of the main findings of a progress report into the European Commission's European disability strategy 2010-2020.

The report, published on Thursday, said there has been progress in all the eight areas of the strategy, including accessibility, participation, equality and employment.

Despite some achievements, the Commission report says that challenges remain.


It goes on, "As the EU population is getting older, the number of Europeans with disabilities is rising significantly, and their employment rate remains much lower than the one of people without disabilities (48.7 per cent vs 72.5 per cent)."

In addition, 30 per cent of people with a disability are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, compared to 21.5 per cent of people without disabilities, says the report.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Brussels, European employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said, "Today's progress report shows that objectives of the 10-year strategy remain fully relevant."

She added, "By 2020, approximately 120 million Europeans will have a disability. EU action has made a significant difference over the past years, but we cannot succeed without the help of member states.

"We need to continue efforts at all levels in toppling down the barriers preventing people with disabilities from fully participating in our labour markets and society. The upcoming adoption of a European pillar of social rights will further underpin our efforts towards a more social and inclusive Europe for all."

She said one of the success stories of the strategy had been the EU disability card project, which has been piloted in eight member states.

Launched nearly a year ago, the card seeks to provide an equal access to certain specific benefits, mainly in the areas of culture, leisure, sport and transport. 

The card is supposed to be mutually recognised between EU countries participating in the system, on a voluntary basis.

Other initiatives such as the directive on web accessibility, which will make public websites accessible to everyone, and the proposal for a European accessibility act, are "big steps" towards better accessibility, said Thyssen.

She will give a keynote speech on the disability strategy progress report and accessibility workshop in Brussels on Thursday.


Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - New EU regulations on AI seek to ban mass and indiscriminate surveillance