ENIL presents policy proposals to the European Commission. ENIL logo, co-funded by the EU

Today an ENIL delegation met with European Commission officials to present key policy proposals on Independent Living. As part of the European Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Commission is developing a Framework on Social Services of Excellence for Persons with Disabilities. This April, ENIL presented an extensive proposal to this Framework in the European Parliament.

During today´s meeting with head of unit Lucie Davoine and Policy Officer Rosita Scanferla, our delegation explained in greater detail some of the most important concepts from the ENIL proposal.

A key function of social services for disabled people, is to provide the necessary support so that institutions are no longer needed. ENIL Policy Coordinator Florian Sanden explained about the need for state parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) to adopt strategies on deinstitutionalisation to make the abolishment of institutions a reality. Such strategies need to contain plans for the reduction of places in institutions and the expansion of community-based services such as personal assistance. The objective has to be to replace institutions with services that are more respectful for the rights of the person. Any strategy on deinstitutionalisation needs to be based on the definition of an institution established by the Guidelines on Deinstitutionalisation, including in emergencies. The obligatory sharing of assistants, lack of control over the daily routine or insufficient choice over with whom to live are some of many criteria that help identify such settings.

Florian added that services for disabled should, whenever possible, function according to the concept of peer support which is all about disabled people providing support to each other. There are many forms of peer support. Peer support in working with personal assistance is carried out by personal assistance user cooperatives and Centres for Independent Living. Such organisations help personal assistance beneficiaries to do the bureaucratic work required and also to hire, train and supervise the assistants.

ENIL Co-Chair Nadia Hadad explained how community-based services of many different types have to interlock to make Independent Living possible. Next to personal assistance, also access to education or health care was needed.

ENIL Human Rights Officer Rita Crespo-Fernandez presented information about the Centro de Vida Independente from Portugal which had a major role in implementing the ESF+ funded pilot project on personal assistance in the country. Despite the small financial volume, only 95 beneficiaries received assistance through the project, the outcomes were very positive because the participants reported a strong increase in their quality of life.

ENIL Policy Officer Antonella Candiago, explained about additional projects we are working on, for example the personal assistance watch, the Independent Living Map, and the Personal Assistance Resource Bank. In these projects, new data was soon to be published.

Next to the proposal to the Framework on Social Services of Excellence, Florian handed over the ENIL manifesto to the European Elections which asks the EU to adopt an Independent Living Directive.

The European Commission officials expressed great interest in the proposals presented by ENIL and asked inquiring follow-up questions. Especially, the need to gather promising examples of good practice was highlighted. Our delegation had to explain that apart from some individual projects, so major reforms could be rated as good practice at this time. It was pointed out though that the reforms conducted in Malta showed promise.

ENIL and the European Commission agreed to continue the fruitful exchange. Our delegation explained about the commitment to ensure an ambitious Framework on Social Services of Excellence.

You can download our Proposal to the Framework on Social Services of Excellence as pdf here and as word here.

You download our Manifesto to the Elections and the legislative period 2024-2029 as pdf here and as word here.

You can download our statement on the regulation on the protection of vulnerable adults in cross-border situations as pdf here and as word here.