One Year After the Social Pillar: Will Europe Vote for Segregation or Inclusion?

One Year After the Social Pillar: Will Europe Vote for Segregation or Inclusion?

Discriminatory laws and policies still force disabled people to live apart, use special services, live in segregated institutions. We want this to end with the next elections.

In 2018, thousands of disabled people across Europe are still hidden away from society. Contrary to promises, European funds still promote segregation in some Member States, as shown in ENIL’s 2018 briefing.

Despite the Social Pillar, many disabled citizens have little faith in the European Union. Disabled people across the EU suffer the effects of austerity, lack of housing and social services, inaccessible transport, poverty, the prioritising of economic interests over social rights.

We, disabled people, are not second-class citizens. We need a European Parliament and a European Commission that put people first.

In the run up to the 2019 European elections, ENIL members throughout Europe have joined forces to promote an inclusive Europe worth voting for. As a result, ENIL published a Manifesto that highlights crucial areas where the European Union can take a lead to improve our lives as disabled citizens.

We want a European Union that:

1. Ensures all European funding is invested into inclusion, not segregation (with a prohibition on investment into residential and institutional care facilities that put us apart and abuse us).

2. Makes sure all Europeans can move freely within the EU. This includes making sure that public transport is fully accessible, without the need for pre-booking, and being able to accept a job offer in another country.

3. Fully involves disabled people in discussions on how to put social inclusion into practice.

4. Breaks down the “policy silos” and makes sure that initiatives in different policy areas complement, not contradict, each other.

ENIL will use the Manifesto to ask candidates for the European Parliament to join the inclusion revolution and state what actions they will take to realize an inclusive EU. The culmination of our election campaign will be the 6th European Independent Living Day on the 5th May 2019, when disabled people will share testimonies about their hopes and worries for the forthcoming five years.

Today, the EU speaks about inclusion, yet continues to invest in segregation. The EU speaks about the value of a strong civil society, yet disabled citizens are silenced by losing their funding.

It is time disabled people use their vote to change this – instead of talk on inclusion, we vote for action on inclusion!




Note to editors

About ENIL

The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a Europe-wide grass-roots network of disabled people, with members throughout Europe. Our mission is to be a strong voice of disabled people and advocate for everyone’s right to Independent Living.

Independent Living means that (disabled) people should have the same level of choice, control and freedom, no matter what their support needs are. This does not mean that people need to do everything by themselves. All (disabled) people depend on and interact with other people in day-to-day life.

It does mean that all people should have the right to choose how, where and with whom to live. Any support a disabled person receives to realize this right should be controlled by the person and respect their individual choice and needs.

Contact information

Frank Sioen
ENIL Advocacy Officer

Related documents:

1. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD)

For the full text of the convention see: 

2. The European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar)

For more information on and the full text of the Social Pillar see:

3. ENIL Manifesto for the 2019 European Elections:

For the Manifesto and background see: in Word and Pdf

4. ENIL Briefing on the Use of EU Funds for Independent Living

For the full briefing and background see:

5. ENIL Factsheet on Independent Living

For more information on the concept of Independent Living see:

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