ENIL’s project “ Proud, Strong and Visible – Promoting Choice, Control and Participation of Disabled people in Europe funded by the European Commission 2014 PROGRESS Action Grant is currently being implemented. We are continuing in our aim to facilitate the implementation of Article 19 ( Living independently and being included in the community) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities ( CRPD) by the Member States and the European Union. As we review the first quarter of 2014, we are delighted that a number of key activities of the ENIL Project have been successful carried out.
The European Elections take place in May 2014 and ENIL recognise that it is vital that candidates are aware of the pertinent issues affecting disabled people achieving Independent Living. Equally, eligible voters need to acknowledge the importance of casting a vote as well as know what the candidates in their Member States, intend to do to improve the inclusion of disabled people within society. To this end, ENIL created the ENIL Manifesto which outlines what we think needs to happen to improve disabled people’s life chances and support us to achieve our goals and aspirations. We have also created a questionnaire which was sent to the leads of the European Parliament Political Groups to help you identify candidates you would wish to vote for. So far, we have received a number of responses from political parties to this questionnaire namely from the EPP, ALDE and SPD. Also to support you in how to identify voting for a candidate that aligns with the independent living philosophy and which outlines the importance of having your vote counted in the European Elections, we have created the ENIL Election Toolkit. To find out more about our work in relation to the European Elections, please visit the newly created page on our website http://enil.eu/manifesto-and-european-parliament-elections-questionnaire/
The Alliance Against Cuts was also launched in the first quarter of this year. The first meeting of the alliance was held in Brussels, Belgium on the 1st April 2014. We are delighted to have representatives from a number of disabled people’s organisations and European NGO’s including Onafhankelijk Leven, EASPD, Inclusion Europe, EFC, EDF, DPAC, Mental Health Europe, Autism Europe, ENUSPD and also the support of the office of Paul Murphy, MEP as part of this alliance. The meeting focussed on the status on the Resolution of the European Parliament on the effects of cuts in public spending on persons with disabilities in the European Union and the next steps that could be taken to progress this forward. The meeting also highlighted the importance of the work that is being undertaken at European Level and the need to continue to support these initiatives, most especially the two written declarations in relation to disabled people. The first written declaration on the rights of people with disabilities was initiated by the Spanish organisation FEVI and is supported by a number of MEPs most especially Spanish MEP Iñaki Irazabalbeitia. The second written declaration is as a result of the Meeting of the Freedom Drivers in the European Parliament in September 2013 and calls for the establishment of a European Commission directorate for disability and is supported most notably by Irish MEP, Marian Harkin. The Alliance Against Cuts also discussed the importance of the 5th May – European Independent Living Day. To highlight the impact of the austerity measures on the lives of disabled people across Europe a number of simultaneous events will be taking place on this day as part of the Stop Disability Cuts Campaign. For more information about the Alliance please visit the www.stopdisabilitycuts.eu website which highlights the direct impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people and also provides information on the events taking place in member states on the 5th May 2014.
ENIL hold a number of capacity building events every year and a webinar “Education – is it for all?” took place on the 29th April 2014 with twenty participants from over twelve countries. The webinar focussed on the issue of an accessible education environment. Article 24 of the UN CRPD states that “States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning”. There was a lively discussion in relation to disabled people being excluded from the general education system on the basis of a disability and how more inclusive policies could be implemented. Patrick Vandelanotte from Belgium, an expert on inclusive education gave an excellent presentation on this topic.
We are delighted that the first part of the ENIL project has been so successful and look forward to continuing its implementation. ENIL will be holding a number of events throughout the year as part of this project which we will advertise through our website and newsletter if you would like to take part!