Press Release: ENIL Calls on the EU to fully implement the UN CRPD

Press Release: ENIL Calls on the EU to fully implement the UN CRPD

In Brussels, 5 May 2022 – On the occasion of the 9th Edition of the Independent Living Day on the 5th of May, the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) calls on the EU to ensure the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a Europe-wide network of disabled people. For us Independent Living is a process of empowerment and emancipation, enabling equal opportunities, rights and full participation in all aspects of society. To achieve these goals, we advocate for the complete removal of all barriers restricting the inclusion of disabled people in the community. Among these barriers are all forms of institutional care, including group homes, nursing homes, sheltered workshops and special schools. Discrimination in access to employment, education or housing constitute further barriers.

The UN CRPD requires Governments to ensure full participation, independent living and deinstitutionalisation. The EU, as well as all Member States, have ratified the Convention. Thus, the UN CRPD is legally binding throughout the European Union.

ENIL’s shadow report on the implementation of the UN CRPD

In February 2022, ENIL published a shadow report on the implementation of the UN CRPD in the EU. Shadow reports support the monitoring cycles which the UN treaty bodies conduct on the application of international treaties. ENIL’s shadow report raises “serious concerns about the implementation of the UN CRPD by the EU”. The report finds that the right to live independently is largely denied. Other fundamental human rights like the right to life and freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are being violated as well.

There is evidence that across Europe that at least 1 438 696 people are still confined to institutions. A number which has remained unchanged since the adoption of the UN CRPD.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the continued prevalence of institutions had devastating consequences for disabled people. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in institutions was disproportionate. Deaths in nursing homes accounted for 51% of total COVID-19 deaths in the Netherlands and 68% in Spain. The prevalence of ableism and the medical model of disability led to denials of essential healthcare.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, disabled people were exposed to systemic denial and rationing of healthcare. For example, the department of health of the city of Madrid issued guidelines stating that people with intellectual disabilities should not be sent to the hospital. There is evidence that in Italy doctors rationed intensive care treatment based on who was deemed worthy.

Demands to the EU and its Member States

Due to the human rights violations inherent to institutional settings, as well as the numerous barriers to independent living and full participation of disabled people in society, ENIL calls on the EU and its Member States to:

1. Replace institutional care by community-based support services: In some countries, the lack of affordable housing makes it difficult for disabled people to leave institutions. In many countries, personal assistance schemes are insufficiently developed to provide effective alternatives to institutions. These practices need to change. Until today, EU funding contributes to the building of new institutions. This funding needs to the be redirected into the development of community-based supports and accessible mainstream services.

2. Ensure disability support services respect the agency of disabled people: General Comment No. 5 of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that when it comes to support services, the respect for personal autonomy and self-determination have to be at the heart of all arrangements. The core feature of institutions is that disabled people are forced to surrender any exercise of choice and control over their lives. These imbalances of power contribute to the prevalent and inherent human rights abuses in institutional settings. In genuine community-based support services, disabled people are able to exercise full control over their lives. The disabled person has to be the boss.

 3. Take effective measures to ensure equal access to education, employment and health: ENIL shadow report estimates that 75% of disabled children in Central and Eastern Europe are excluded from quality inclusive education. In the EU, employment rates of disabled people stand at 50.8% compared to 75% for the general population. Health insurance schemes often exclude disabled people. Insufficient funding, prevailing prejudices and attitudinal barriers, ineffective employment antidiscrimination legislation. as well as ableism are at the core of these problems and must be addressed as a matter of priority.

The List of Issues Prior to Reporting for the EU, adopted by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in March 2022, can be found here. For further information on ENIL and our positions go to: or contact: Florian Sanden, ENIL Policy Coordinator,

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