|Written by Inclusion Europe|
|12 April 2010|
On 23 March a meeting hosted by Adám Kosá, president of the Disability Intergroup, and the European Disability Forum (EDF) took place at the European Parliament. Experts on disability policies discussed how the Disability Pact can be integrated into the EU 2020 Strategy. The disability movement’s objective is to direct EU 2020 toward equal opportunities, social protection and inclusion of people with disabilities. The long term goal is to improve the lives of about 65 million of European citizens with a disability.
Adám Kosá, who is the first deaf Member of the European Parliament, urged EU leaders at the meeting to adopt the Disability Pact. He also called on organizations and NGOs to maintain the pressure on policymakers to include the Disability Pact into the EU 2020 strategy. The Disability Intergroup wants to ensure that the European Union budget is used to benefit the rights of disabled people and not for building up or maintaining barriers. Their main objective is to direct funding to programs that promote accessibility and non-discrimination, increase the employment rate of disabled people and advance the ratification and implementation process of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Ádám Kósa said that the four-year program for the Intergroup has been adopted. The issue of the deposition of the UN CRPD will be discussed at the next Intergroup meeting in Strasbourg on the 20 May. Delmira Seara, Counselor for Social Affairs at the Permanent Representation of Spain, and Gábor Iván, Hungary’s Ambassador to the EU, committed themselves to mainstream disability in all relevant flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy. But despite modern legislation and policy proposals at European level, people with disabilities and their families still face social exclusion and discrimination in their every day lives. Wasilios Katsioulis, who has a disability himself and is a Member of the Parliament’s Disability Support group talked at the meeting about the exclusion of his son from the European school in Brussels. According to Wasilios Katsioulis his son who is autistic was expelled from the European school in Brussels which made no effort to meet his son’s needs. The child speaks only German and does not understand other languages because of his disability. Consequently, he spent 8 months at home without schooling. The family had to arrange that the son lives in a German speaking community in Belgium with his mother during the week in order to go to school and the family can only unite over weekends.
Article 24 of the UNCRPD on education states that States Parties should “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels” and that “persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system”. The Disability Pact wants to provide a framework for inclusion and promotion of disability rights and policies in EU Member States and at European level. The Disability Pact is based on the principles of improving the living conditions of disabled people and their equal rights. The framework of the Pact relies on existing policies at international, European and national level. A successful inclusion of the Disability Pact into the European 2020 strategy would direct the strategy’s goals toward issues such as equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities, social protection and inclusive education.
To find out more about the disability intergroup, please click here
To read more about the Europe 2020 Strategy, please click here