On 7 December 2017, the Council of the European Union adopted Conclusions on “Enhancing Community-Based Support and Care for Independent Living”. The Conclusions show the commitment of all Member States of the European Union to continue investment in 21st century community-based social support services, and stop the segregation of people with support needs in large-scale residential institutions. In 2017, still millions of persons with disabilities, older persons and children are living far from their families, in institutions, due to the lack of adequate support services in the community. Informal carers also cover a significant amount of this gap in social care provision. 80% of all care needs are provided by family members, who are left without financial compensation, social rights, benefits, or pension rights and face poverty and social exclusion. The Council Conclusions make it clear that the EU and its Member States want to enhance independent living and community-based care and support.
The EU has a good reason to keep the deinstitutionalisation process high on the agenda: the EU and 27 of its Member States ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) that envisages a society in which persons with disabilities can fully participate and enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with others. Article 19 of the CRPD specifically calls States to ensure that persons with disabilities can choose where and with whom to live and that investment should be made to develop community-based support services for persons with disabilities and their families (e.g. personal assistance, in-home services, personal budget etc.). Furthermore, there is a need to make mainstream social and health services more accessible and affordable for all people.
COFACE Families Europe followed closely the development of the Council Conclusions and we took active part in the Estonian Presidency Conference on deinstitutionalisation that paved the way for these Conclusions. We welcome the adoption of the Council Conclusions on DI and independent living and firmly believe that political commitment on investing in community-based services is a key step towards achieving social inclusion. The EU should leave no one behind and be an example on respecting the human rights of all. The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) undoubtedly make an important contribution to the implementation of reforms and the financing of the transition process from institutional to community-based care. We would like to see continued efforts and adequate funding in the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework to make deinstitutionalisation and social inclusion an investment priority across the EU.
For more information, please contact Policy and advocay officer Magdi Birtha at email@example.com