On Thursday, 7 July, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), with special regard to the Concluding Observations of the UN CRPD Committee.
Belgian MEP Helga Stevens (ECR) was the Rapporteur for the Report. A large majority of MEPs across political groups voted to adopt the resolution. This action expresses the European Parliaments commitment to the rights of people with disabilities and the implementation of the UN CRPD.
Several points in the resolution are particularly welcome:
- The Parliament stressed the fact that the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society regardless of a country’s socio-economic, political or cultural status is not just a development issue but also a human rights issue.
- The Parliament calls for the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the EU global socio-economic agenda, in particular the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Semester; recommends the adoption of a Disability Pact to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are mainstreamed through EU initiatives.
- The Parliament calls on the Commission, in the context of the European Semester, when evaluating the social situation in Member States (country reports and country-specific recommendations) to also focus on monitoring the situation of persons with disabilities as part of the EU’s shared commitment to building a barrier-free Europe
- The Parliament’s call on the Member States to refrain from cuts to disability-related benefits and community-based services.
- The Parliament recalled the importance of the fundamental right to participation by persons with disabilities in policy processes and decision-making on disability at all levels.
- The Parliament emphasised that, if the rights of children with disabilities are to be protected, proper support for their families must be guaranteed.
- The Parliament stressed that in order to achieve autonomous and independent living for persons with disabilities, especially women, (personal or public) assistance is a means that would support them and their families, enabling them to access workplace, educational and vocational training institutions, and supporting them in the event of pregnancy and motherhood.
- Calls on the Member States to implement effective mechanisms in order to prevent or alleviate poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion among persons with disabilities and their families, with special regard to children and older persons with disabilities, in the context of a European Pillar of Social Rights.
- Calls on the Member States to make better use of structural funds, in particular the European Social Fund and the Creative Europe Programme, involving as much as possible national, regional and local organisations representing persons with disabilities.
- Calls on the Member States to disseminate the principle under which ESIF contracting authorities may exclude applicants for failing to meet the commitment to accessibility for persons with disabilities.
- Welcomes the ex-ante conditionalities on social inclusion and its investment priority on the ‘transition from institutional to community based services’ in the Common Provisions Regulation ; calls on the Member States to use the funds for the purpose of deinstitutionalisation and as a tool for implementing the CRPD.
- Is concerned that the European Structural and Investment Funds are being misused to foster institutionalisation, and calls on the Member States and the Commission to strengthen their monitoring in line with the CRPD and in consultation with organisations representing persons with disabilities; believes that transparency principles should govern the entire procedure from the allocation of funds to their actual use.
- Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures, including through the use of ESI Funds and other relevant EU funds, to develop high-quality and affordable support services in local communities for boys and girls with disabilities and their families, including persons in need of high-level support, to foster deinstitutionalisation and prevent new institutionalisation, and to promote inclusive communities and access to inclusive quality education for boys and girls with disabilities.
- Believes that the EU institutions should consider opening future and existing funding streams to organisations actively representing persons with disabilities.
- Calls on the Commission to continue working towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities through the provision of financial support for a range of grassroots projects and organisations.
- Calls for the development of human-rights-based indicators, and calls on the Member States to provide quantitative and qualitative comparable data disaggregated on the basis of various factors, including by gender, age, employment status and disability, for all activities in the EU; calls on the Commission to fund relevant research and data collection, for example on accessibility of tourism and healthcare services, violence, abuse and exploitation of all persons with all types of disabilities in the community and in the institutions.
- Calls on the Commission to harmonise data collection on disability through EU social surveys in line with Article 31 of the CRPD, in order to accurately identify and publicise developments in the sector; emphasises that such data collection should use methodologies that are inclusive of all persons with disabilities, including those with more severe impairments and those living in institutions.
The European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) took part in the Disability Intergroup debate on the Report and attended the plenary session to witness the vote. While welcoming the Resolution, ENIL regrets that certain points were rejected in the plenary vote. It is, for example, disappointing that both the proposal to counter the negative effects of austerity measures by adopting an EU social protection floor and the recommendation to the European Commission to recover ESIFs from Member States if they breach their obligation to respect fundamental rights were removed from the final Report.
Despite this the report promotes a human rights approach towards disability and will be a highly useful tool when promoting the implementation of the UN CRPD in both the EU and the Member States.
European Parliament web portal.
Full text of the adopted European Parliament Resolution available in all EU languages.
ENIL report on the adopted European Parliament Resolution.