2019 is a special year for the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) – we are celebrating our 30th Anniversary! To mark this occasion, we will be taking stock of what has happened during this time, speak to the some of our founders and look at what we can do to make the movement stronger in the times ahead.

These are some of the main activities we have planned for this year:

9th Freedom Drive: The highlight of this year is our 9th Freedom Drive, which will take place on the 1st – 3rd October in Brussels. We have already started mobilising our members and are hoping to have Independent Living activists and allies from all corners of Europe. We are planning a busy week, with workshops, a hearing in the European Parliament, a protest and a conference on Independent Living and the future of the European Disability Strategy. We will also have our General Assembly and the 30th Birthday Party. You can find out more in our regular Freedom Drive updates.

European Elections: With the European Elections coming in May, we have started the year by promoting our elections manifesto. We will also be updating our 2014 Elections Toolkit, which will be disseminated to our members and we will use the 5th May – the European Independent Living Day – to make it clear to all those running in the elections what needs to be done to advance the rights of disabled people in the EU.

UN CRPD: We will continue supporting our members in monitoring the implementation of Article 19 CRPD in their countries and making this information available to the CRPD Committee. We plan to focus on Spain, Belgium and Croatia and Hungary, all of which are coming up for their 2nd review. We are planning to publish our first State of Independent Living Survey by the end of the year, looking at progress countries are making on some of the CRPD articles key to Independent Living.

Personal assistance: On 25th March, we will have the closing event of the User-Led Personal Assistance (ULPA) project, focusing on the future of Personal Assistance. We will also continue working on the freedom of movement, which will be one of the topics of the 9th Freedom Drive.

EU Funds: The EU Funds for Our Rights Campaign will continue by working with our members and partners, in order to monitor where the Funds are going and raise concerns where and when needed. We will be meeting regularly with the relevant desk officers at the European Commission, MEPs and the European Ombudsman’s office. A new briefing will also be published this year, summarising concerns that arose in the last year. Importantly, we will continue monitoring negotiations of the post 2020 legislative package, and the preparatory work in the Member States for the 2021 – 2027 programming period.

Deinstitutionalisation: On 6th March, we will gather in the European Parliament to launch a collection of emerging practices from the Member States that seek to promote Independent Living, developed in collaboration with the European Disability Forum. ENIL-ECCL will continue sharing good practices by doing monthly interviews with individuals and organisations across Europe, with the aim of extending the bank of resources and the network we started in 2018. We will continue working with Nic Crosby, of GatherBuildWork, and hope to be of support to all those directly involved in the development of alternatives to institutions in their countries. The European Expert Group on the Transition of Institutional to Community-based Care will also have a number of meetings and activities that we plan to join this year.

Youth: Our Youth Network is busy preparing a new study session, which will take place in Strasbourg on 17th – 22nd June. The topic of this year’s session is mental health and Independent Living, and the registration has just opened. In March, we will welcome two new European Solidarity Corps volunteers in our office – Hatiye Garip from Turkey and Lisa Madl from Austria. We very much look forward to having them on board soon.

Members: We aim to support our members with the know-how, connections and joint advocacy initiatives towards national governments or the European Commission. There will be several occasions for our members to meet this year – a regional event will soon be announced, and there will be many opportunities to network, share and get to know one another during the Freedom Drive.

You will find up-to-date information about our activities in our monthly Newsletters and Members’ mailing.

To join ENIL, please click here.