Member of the Parliament - Stelios Kympouropoulos, Nadia Hadad, Florian Sanden, Michael Goossens

On 6 September 2022 a delegation from ENIL had the pleasure to meet with Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Stelios Kympouropoulos. MEP Kympouropoulos is chair of the disability intergroup and member of the committee on employment and social affairs. Being a disabled person and a personal assistance user himself, he has excellent knowledge on the support needs of disabled people. MEP Kympouropoulos served on the board of ENIL.

During the meeting our delegation presented evidence on the human rights abuses committed against disabled people throughout Europe. During the COVID-19 pandemic authorities took decisions to excluded disabled people in institutions from emergency health care. In some countries residents of institutions accounted for up to 61% of all virus related fatalities. Disabled people in institutions are at a high risk to fall victim to illness, fires, floodings, sexual violence and other dangers.

For ENIL the only response to this abuse is to advance deinstitutionalization and the creation of personal assistance schemes. Unfortunately, there is evidence that the number of disabled people in institutions had remained stable between 2007 and 2020. Also in many countries accessing Personal Assistance is still so difficult that it is not in a position to provide an alternative to institutional support. For example, in Belgium disabled people have to wait for up to 23 years until the personal budget to purchase PA is granted.

MEP Kympouropoulos expressed deep sorrow over the human rights abuses committed against disabled people and voiced substantial concern on the lack of progress on deinstitutionalization. The chair of the disability intergroup agreed with ENIL´s assessment that we need a much more widespread access to Personal Assistance if we are to overcome a system of disability support centered around institutions.

Currently the 27 member states are not ready to allow the European Union to adopt legislative measures, such as the creation of Union wide minimum standards on Personal Assistance. Too many people maintain the view that social policy is not a matter for the EU to get involved in.

MEP Kympouropoulos explained that more efforts should be undertaken to spread the concept of Personal Assistance in line with the UNCPRD. To this end, he proposed to invite ENIL to attend a meeting of the disability intergroup of the European Parliament to present good examples. The MEP also suggest to produce a documentary on the fate of disabled people in institutions and the live changing power of access to Personal Assistance.

The ENIL delegation welcomed these ideas. MEP Kympouropoulos and ENIL agreed to engage in close dialogue on how to advance disability rights in the EU.

Nadia Hadad, Florian Sanden and Michael Gossens represented ENIL in this meeting.