On behalf of ENIL, Nadia Hadad attended the EU Disability High Level Group meeting on 18th May 2017. It was led by Mrs Emmanuelle Grange, the Head of the Disability Unit in DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The group’s main aim is to facilitate the exchange of information, experiences and good practices in the area of disability between the European Commission, EU Member States and civil society organisations. Spokespeople from each of these stakeholders gave progress reports on their work as well as setting out their future goals.
Representatives from Ireland and Cyprus spoke of how the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) is being implemented at state level. Ireland is preparing to ratify the UN CRPD and Cyprus has undertaken a consultation on what needs to be done to implement it. Priorities emerging from the consultation were accessibility of the built environment, transport, communication and voting rights. There was a strong recommendation from the CRPD Committee to disseminate its conclusions at all levels and to better consult with civil society.
The latest developments on the UN CRPD implementation at the EU Level were explained by Mrs Emmanuelle Grange. She detailed the working process and the progress of the EU Framework that the Commission is preparing, in response to three UN Committee recommendations. The Commission is also working on a declaration of competence, a list of commitments from the Commission on disability. Good progress has been made but issues are still ongoing.
A progress report on the EU Disability strategy 2010-2020 was presented. Updates were given on the progress of the European Accessibility Act, guidance for victims of discrimination and the European Social Pillar, amongst many other topics.
Reports from the EU presidency of Malta show that there has been significant work undertaken on disability, under the priority of social inclusion. The next presidency will be organised by the Estonian government. They plan 13 events with the most important one being a seminar on “Dignity and Independent Living” (12-13 October in Tallinn). ENIL are participating and Jamie Bolling will be one of the speakers. It will focus on the broader aspect of deinstitutionalisation by sharing experiences.
There were also discussions on topics including how the EU can support refugees and migrants with disabilities, how the EU can lead in its implementation of the UN CRPD in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2017 campaign on violence against women and a study by the EU Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. Presentations were given by the European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities (EASPD), Mental Health Europe and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) on their work around the UN CRPD.
Looking forward, the next steps to be taken by the EU on disability are to:
– Finalise the implementation of the EU Disability Strategy as committed to in 2010
– Use the EU Disability Strategy to further implement the UN Committee recommendations
– Start reflections on what will happen after the period of application of the EU Disability Strategy
– Prepare another EU periodic report to the UN committee
– Continue to mainstream disability in key policy developments and future actions