One in six people in the EU have some degree of disability. More than a third of people over 75 have a disability which restricts their rights to some extent. And the EU’s aging population means these figures are set to rise. Too often, most of these people are unable to participate fully in society and the economy due to physical and other barriers or discrimination.
On 15 November 2010, the European Commission adopted a new European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe
. COFACE welcomes this policy approach to promoting equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Specific measures being rolled out over the next decade will range from mutual recognition of national disability cards, through a more focused use of public procurement and state aid rules, to promoting standardization.
The measures will not only be good for society, but will also have positive knock-on effects for Europe's economy by boosting development of the EU market for assistive devices and services, for example. The Commission will also consider proposing a European Accessibility Act in 2012 to further strengthen the single market for goods and services accessible to persons with disabilities.
The overall aim of the EU strategy is to empower people with disabilities so that they can enjoy their rights on an equal footing with other citizens and eliminate the barriers they encounter in everyday life.
The strategy comes with a list of practical measures and a timetable. The Commission will report regularly on the progress of the plan and progress towards meeting its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
, which the EU has signed up to.
Published on 01 Dec 2010
Updated on 11 Dec 2011