Roundtable on the portability of personal assistance in the European Union
9:00 – 11:00, 18 November 2014, European Parliament, Brussels
Hosted by Marian Harkin MEP
The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is organising a roundtable in the European Parliament on the issue of portability of, and access to, personal assistance within the European Union. The roundtable will present the results of ENIL’s survey on the availability of personal assistance in Europe and the initiatives of ENIL and other organisations – the Erasmus Student Network and the European Disability Forum – to promote the freedom of movement of disabled people in the European Union. Speakers and participants will propose actions that the new European Parliament and the European Commission could take to tackle.
The objectives of the roundtable are:
- To highlight the barriers disabled EU citizens who use personal assistance (referred to as ‘personal assistance users’) face as a result being denied support in other EU Member States or not being able to export the services they are entitled to when they move;
- To highlight the barriers personal assistance users in the EU face when taking part in EU funded programmes or projects;
- To identify which actions the new European Parliament and Commission, as well as the Member States, should take to address the barriers to intra-EU mobility.
The roundtable is aimed at disabled people and their organisations, MEPs, the European Commission officials, representatives of the Member States, the civil society and the academia.
ENIL has been contacted by, or made aware of, a number of personal assistance users from the EU unable to take up a university or a work place in another Member State because of restrictions in accessing support services or not being able to take their support package with them. We also know of cases when the EU funded projects were not able to accommodate personal assistance users, because of the cost involved.
As a user-led organisation, with the majority of its staff being disabled people, ENIL has first-hand experience of the difficulty in recruiting personal assistance users from different countries and basing them in a central office. For this reason, our staff are spread out across the EU, which means that they are able to keep the support they are entitled to in their home countries. We are aware that many personal assistance users decide not to pursue studies or work abroad, because they know in advance that they will have difficulties keeping their support package, or accessing the required support.
Actions taken by the European Commission
The European Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020 recognises the many obstacles preventing disabled people from exercising their Union citizenship rights, including freedom of movement and being able to choose where and how to live. It acknowledges that a person with a recognised disability moving to another EU country can lose access to national benefits. The Strategy goes on to state that the European Commission will work to:
“overcome the obstacles to exercising their rights as individuals, consumers, students, economic and political actors [and] tackle the problems related to intra-EU mobility”
Furthermore, a report published by the Academic Network of European Disability Experts (ANED) in 2010, entitled “Disability Benefits and Entitlements in European Countries: Mutual Recognition and Exportability of Benefits” identified a number of obstacles to disabled people’s freedom of movement within the EU and put forward a number of recommendations to the European Commission and the Member States.
Despite the research and the positive intentions of the Disability Strategy, there have been no substantial improvements in the ability of personal assistance users to move freely for work or study within the EU. Therefore, it is clear that steps must be taken by the European Commission and the Member States to address more effectively the barriers to intra-EU mobility. Even more so as the EU (and all but three Member States) are a State Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognises the right of all disabled people to the right to live independently and being included in the community (Article 19) and the right to liberty of movement (Article 18).
Please click here to download a copy of the draft programme.
To register: Please complete the registration form by 7th November 2014.
If you do not have access to the Parliament, please include your passport number, date of birth and nationality, so we can arrange your pass.