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European Commission ‘must do more on disability rights’

European Commission ‘must do more on disability rights’
7th June 2010 developer

Europe’s leading disabled people’s organisation has raised concerns over the European Commission’s failure to make disability rights a central part of its strategy for the next decade.

The European Disability Forum (EDF), which fights for the rights of the European Union’s (EU) 65 million disabled people, wants disability to be a key part of Europe 2020, the EU’s strategy for economic and social development over the next ten years.

But EDF said the strategy has so far failed to take the needs of disabled people into account.

And it criticised the European Commission – the EU’s executive body – for carrying out frequent consultations with disabled people, but often failing to act on what they say.

EDF has called on the commission and member states to make “concrete acts and commitments” on disability, and produce “well-defined targets” for Europe 2020.

Among its proposals, EDF wants: a review of EU legislation to check how it is complying with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; effective European anti-discrimination laws; and measures to improve access to transport.

It also wants to see targets on the employment of disabled people, inclusive education, and for bringing disabled people out of segregated institutions.

EDF said it was concerned that the EU had made no long-term commitment on disability, with its 27 member states instead “developing 27 different national disability action plans”.

An EDF spokeswoman said: “Coordination between the European and national actions, and clear and measurable objectives linked to the EU strategy for growth and jobs, is the road to a barrier-free Europe.”

The European Commission will launch a new European Disability Strategy in the autumn, which will set out “concrete actions” for the next ten years.

But EDF said it was “out of the loop” on the strategy and had not been asked to offer its views on what its priorities should be.

An EDF spokeswoman added: “EDF think it would be appropriate to involve persons with disabilities in such an important strategy.”

EDF called on the commission and member states to give “new impetus” to the social inclusion of disabled people by signing up to its Disability Pact, a commitment to put disability at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy and all new EU policies.

The EDF spokeswoman added: “The first step is to include persons with disabilities in the policy-making process.”

No-one from the European Commission was available to comment.