With Christmas around the corner, the disability community has gathered in Brussels for the European Disability and Development Week (from 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities until 7 December, Human Rights Day).
For ENIL, the week started on the 2nd of December, when some of the ENIL members, staff and Board came to our office for a an informal meeting (the photo above is from this meeting), which lasted around two hours and during that time we shared our news, discussed our work, learnt about Independent Living and deinstitutionalisation related developments in our countries and spent some nice time together with drinks and snacks.
On 3 and 4 December, the European Commission and the European Disability Forum organised the European Disability Days (you can see some pictures here) on the topics of the European Disability Strategy, the next Multiannual Financial Framework and the cultural heritage. ENIL had strong representation with members from Turkey, Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Bulgaria, Ireland and the UK. We were also very happy to meet Hatiye Garip from Turkey and Lisa Madl from Austria, the new ENIL EVS/European Solidarity Corps volunteers in 2019, in person.
During the Disability Days, the European Commission, Member States, NGOs and disabled people came together to talk about inclusion and present different European initiatives like the European Disability Card and the new proposals for EU Funding. A European Commission representative made a disappointing and shocking statement that investing EU Funds in institutions is justified, to ensure decent living conditions for people living in those institutions. This shows that institutions are a form of cultural heritage the EU struggles to leave behind. While we at ENIL agree that people should have decent living conditions, continuing to invest in institutional care settings will perpetuate inhumane treatment and segregation of disabled people from society. Therefore, we urge the Commission and the Member States to ensure that every emergency investment in an institution, like fixing a leaking roof, is linked to a short term (maximum 2 years) plan to put in place community-based services, close the institution and implement the transition to Independent Living for all.
On 4 December, the second day of the Disability Days, we renewed our Joint Declaration on Co-production together with EASPD, Inclusion Europe, EDF, Mental Health Europe and COFACE Families Europe. You can find the declaration here. The main event of the second day was the announcement of the winners of the Access City award 2019. Breda (the Netherlands) won the award for the sustained investment in accessibility. The city of Évreux (France) came in second and the city of Gdynia (Poland) got the third place. The city of Kaposvár (Hungary) the city of Vigo (Spain) both received a special mention. You can find out more about the access city award here
The European Disability Days ended with an event of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) on deinstitutionalisation. During this event, FRA presented a new report on deinstitutionalisation and Independent Living.
On 7 December, the last day of the European Disability and Development Week, ENIL organised an event on the link between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Independent Living. You can find out more about the event in this article.