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The European Parliament sets priorities for the EU disability strategy post-2020

One in six people in the European Union (EU) have a disability and experience many barriers to access the physical environment and to participate in society as equals. Currently, the main EU framework for disability policies is the European disability strategy 2010-2020, launched to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and which will expire this year.

The Members of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) decided to influence the process, by setting their priorities in a resolution on an EU disability strategy post 2020, the first draft of which was presented and debated on the 23rd of January. This resolution will mark the first position of the European Parliament regarding the disability strategy post-2020.

The process of evaluation of the current strategy is ongoing and the publication of a new strategy is foreseen in 2021. During this process, many organisations, including COFACE Families Europe, highlighted that the strategy has not always led to ambitious policies, nor has led to the rights of persons with disabilities to be fully mainstreamed in all EU actions, due to a general lack of coordination and ambition.

During the meeting, MEP Nicholsonová, chair of the EMPL Committee, opened her intervention by referring to the fire accident killing 8 persons with intellectual disabilities in an institution in The Czech Republic and recalling that no funds should go to institutions segregating persons with disabilities. “The next disability strategy cannot be just a piece of paper for the Member States to look at and put in a drawer and further ignored”, she added. In fact, this is reflected in the draft resolution, which calls for ambitious and clear targets, with implementation timeframes and timelines, a well-resourced monitoring mechanism with clear benchmarks and indicators, coherence with other EU initiatives and strategies and for allocating an adequate budget for its implementation.

MEP Langensiepen, one of the main promoters of this initiative, underlined that many persons with disabilities are still deprived of their rights in Europe, and highlighted the importance of having close and systematic involvement of persons with disabilities and of their representative organisations in the drafting of the strategy, as mentioned in the draft Resolution.
In these days, the EMPL Committee is discussing the amendments to the draft resolution, which will be voted by EMPL on the 20th of February and by the EU Parliament’s plenary in the month of March. COFACE is closely monitoring this process, to ensure that the post-2020 disability strategy will be an ambitious and effective in fostering meaningful inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities and their families.

For more information, contact Irene Bertana: ibertana@coface-eu.org