On 5 June the ENIL Task Force on Independent Living meet for the second time. The meeting took place online on Zoom. More than 30 disability rights activists from all over Europe discussed the content of our policy demands for the European Commission guidance on Independent Living and Inclusion in the community. The publication of this non-compulsory legal document was announced in the European Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030. Working to influence these guidelines is an important opportunity for the Independent Living Movement to put our issues on to the agenda.

Across Europe deinstitutionalization is stalling or being reversed, according to participants. In many countries large institutions were being replaced by smaller institutions, often referred to as group homes. Abelism and the medical model of disability were resisting all efforts for change. Countries were failing to implement adequate Personal Assistance schemes as the key component of community-based services. Access to employment and education was still discriminatory and segregationist. Participants emphasized in inadequate access to disability specific health services, especially in the area of psychiatric disabilities. Having your disability recognized was still fraught with obstacles. Access to housing was still highly dissatisfactory, the same as the access to assistive devices.

Task Force participants states unequivocally that the European Commission guidance to member states needs to call for: 1. The creation of disability support systems based on the human rights model of disability, fully in line with the UNCRPD, 2. The adoption of plans of action or strategies of deinstitutionalization as defined in General Comment no 5, 3. The introduction of Personal Assistance schemes, available to all disabled people in need of support, 4. Full access to disability specific health services, employment, education, housing, assistive devices and fair and transparent disability recognition processes.

The Task Force will meet again on 14 September from 11.00-13.00. Joining the task force is always possible. If you are interested in participating please send an e-mail to florian.sanden@enil.eu.