On 14 January, ENIL, the European Disability Forum, the Validity Foundation and Disability Rights International sent a letter to the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen, asking her to ensure that, in the negotiations on the European Social Fund + (ESF+) Regulations, the wording that that ESF+ should facilitate the “transition from residential/institutional care to family and community-based care” remains intact. In the letter, we provided three key arguments to justify the need to move away from all forms of residential care: legal basis for investing into family and community-based support in Articles 23(5) and 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); lessons learnt during the 2007 – 2013 programming period, with millions spent on smaller institutions for children and adults; and the urgent need to invest into community-based alternatives to residential care, for children and persons with disabilities across EU.

On 19 February, we received a positive response from Commissioner Thyssen, reiterating her “strong commitment and continuous support to the Member States and to all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the future ESF+ promotes the transition from residential/institutional care to family and community-based care services for all groups concerned.” She added that “ESF+ should not support any action that contributes to segregation or to social exclusion”, and assured us that the Commission would defend its proposals during the trialogues.

We strongly welcome the European Commission’s commitment to defending their proposals during the negotiations of the new European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) package for 2021 – 2027. These ongoing negotiations – also referred to as trialogues – between the European Parliament, the European Council and the Commission are key to achieving a strong legal basis for preventing investments of ESI Funds into services and facilities that fail to comply with the requirements of Article 19 CRPD, as explained in the General Comment No 5.  Re-directing funds away from residential care to family-based care, and to support services and housing options that promote independent living, is the only way to achieve full implementation of the CRPD in the Member States and the European Union.

Read our letter to Commissioner Thyssen here

Read Commissioner Thyssen’s response here

*Picture source: European Commission website