European Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
On 3 March the European Commission announced the implementation of a new 2021-2030 strategy with the aim of protecting people with disabilities within the territory of the Union. This strategy will be implemented in order to concretely implement the European project which aims to create a Social Europe.
Strategy for Disability and Social Europe
In fact, in September 2017, at the social summit in Gothenburg in Sweden, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission approved the establishment of the European Pillar of Social Rights., an instrument through which “the EU fights for the rights of citizens in a rapidly changing world”, as stated by former Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Today, the impact of Covid-19 has undoubtedly renewed the need to strengthen the social dimension of the European Union in order to make it more equitable, inclusive and open to contemporary challenges. In fact, one year after the outbreak of the pandemic, it is evident that the measures adopted to limit the spread of the virus have hit the most vulnerable categories, including the disabled: limited access to basic services, forced social exclusion due to the applicants lockdown , have made their integration into today’s already chaotic society even more complex.
The Objectives of the New European Strategy for Disability
The Disability Strategy 2021-2030 aims to fulfill the obligations imposed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities . It is a ten-year program which aims to ensure that people with disabilities in Europe can:
- have equal employment opportunities: the Commission calls on states to exploit the potential of people with disabilities. It undertakes to cooperate with interest groups in order to develop a work package for people with disabilities which aims to support potential social entrepreneurs;
- have equal access to political life: a guide to participation will be published in 2023 that will support political roles through a new Citizenship, Equality, Rights and Values program;
- live independently by choosing where and with whom to live: guidelines and initiatives will be developed in order to improve the provision of social services;
- not to suffer discrimination: not only in the use of essential public services but also in all aspects of the social life of individuals.
The Commitments of the European Commission
The European Union with the adoption of this program shows itself in continuity with the previous European strategy 2010-2020, underlining the desire to break down all the barriers that hinder the lives of people with disabilities and renewing its commitment to implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Although there has been much progress over the past decade, people with disabilities still face significant obstacles and are at greater risk of poverty and social exclusion. For this reason, the action of the European Union must be strengthened, and to do this the European Commission undertakes:
- By 2022 to establish a European resource center “AccessibleEU”, which will allow the creation of a base of knowledge and good practices on accessibility in all sectors of the community;
- By 2023, to propose the European invalidity card for all EU countries, thus facilitating the recognition of disability status within the Member States;
- In 2024, through cooperation with Member States, to introduce a European quality framework for excellent social services for people with disabilities;
- To publish guidance on access to inclusive, accessible and person-centered healthcare and on free and informed consent.
Better Lives for Persons with Disabilities
The EU’s intention is to make the strategy a concrete reality by supporting Member States in defining national action plans and by strengthening levels of cooperation. It is a “working together” between Member States, the European Commission and people with disabilities ; an important and ambitious project for which a strong commitment will be required on the part of all the actors involved, especially to ensure that the EU strengthens its role as defender of the rights of persons with disabilities not only within its borders, but worldwide.