On 18 June, the European Parliament adopted a progressive Resolution for a new European Disability Strategy post 2020 (further referred to as ‘the Resolution’).  ENIL is pleased to see strong emphasis on Independent Living throughout the document. This is particularly visible in three points: deinstitutionalisation with access to services, personal assistance and freedom of movement.  We will explore these points in further detail below.

Deinstitutionalisation with access to services

The Resolution asks the European Commission to ensure that EU Funds are used in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and ‘do not contribute to the construction or refurbishment of institutional care settings or any other kind of settings that could easily turn into an institution.’

The Resolution insists that EU Funds should instead be used to ‘promote inclusive, accessible environments, services, practices and devices, following a universal design approach and favouring deinstitutionalisation’. The Commission should also ‘actively promote the transition from institutional and/or segregating care to community-based support’ in all EU policy fields.

To measure progress, the Parliament asks the Commission to include deinstitutionalisation as an indicator in the EU social scoreboard. Simultaneously, the Resolution also calls on the Member States to accelerate efforts and provide a clear timeline for their deinstitutionalisation process, and to invest in services like accessible housing

Personal assistance (PA)

Personal Assistance is specifically mentioned several times in the Resolution, as an important tool for inclusion and Independent Living.  According to the Resolution, PA should be both a policy and funding target for the European Commission. Disabled people should also be involved in these policy and funding decisions.

The Resolution also recognises the impact of COVID-19 on Personal Assistance and the need to ensure continuous access to PA during emergency situations.

Freedom of Movement

The Resolution calls for clear and measurable targets in, among other, the areas of free movement and independent living. In terms of concrete actions, the Resolution calls on the Commission to ‘develop actions at EU level to ensure that all people with disabilities are able to exercise their freedom of movement and to enjoy freedom of movement and work abroad on an equal basis with others.’

The European Disability Card is identified as a great tool to enable the freedom of movement and ‘to ensure that persons with disabilities across the EU can access disability support without the need for separate assessments in each Member State.’ Therefore, the Resolution asks the Commission to expand the scope of the card. At the same time, the Member States are urged to coordinate their different legislations to ‘enable all EU citizens to access social support services across the EU’.

With this Resolution, the European Parliament informed the Commission and the Member States of its position on the Disability Strategy. As the next step, the Commission will start a consultation process with civil society on the new strategy. ENIL will participate in this consultation and will keep you updated on the developments in our future newsletters and members’ mailings.

It is expected that the Commission will present the first official proposal for a new disability strategy after the summer.