Belgium: EU Conference on the UN Charter for the Disabled (April 2015)
Brussels, 30 April 2015. This year's Work Forum on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) took place in Brussels. EDF and its members were there to present the perspective of 80 million persons with disabilities. The Grand Chancellor of the Order and Chairman of the Saint Lazarus Foundation was present at this important conference as a guest of the European Commission and, during the morning session of the conference, made his intervention related to the need of the various EU member states to ensure that statistics for the disabled throughout Europe are further defined and developed so as to monitor the progress of the disabled in every country's initiatives towards full community integration.
Speaking at the opening of the Work Forum, EDF Vice President, Donata Vivanti, underlined that people with disabilities are still facing discrimination and social exclusion despite the ratification of the UN CRPD and that the austerity measures that the EU recommends to member states due to the crisis, are in many cases making the situation of persons with disabilities worse. "It is time for action to apply the UN CRPD principles in concrete policies and measures at EU level. It is time to invest on the potential of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities want to contribute to the sustainable development of a more equal society, but they are prevented from doing so. It is time for a revision of the European Disability Strategy in light of the concluding observations from the UN Committee on the CRPD. Moreover, Donata also called on the European Commission to finally adopt an ambitious and comprehensive European Accessibility Act which has been delayed for too long.
The 1st session of the meeting focused on how to improve synergies between the EU and the national level in the implementation of the UN CRPD. During this session, EDF Vice President, Gunta Anca moderated the discussion about the EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs). Gunta emphasised that no EU funds should be used to segregate persons with disabilities. This is still happening in the EU today. While positive provisions are included in the new ESIFs regulations, implementation and monitoring remain an issue and should be in line with the UN CRPD.
The 2nd session of the conference focused on what could be done differently to implement the UN Convention in the EU. Based on the fact that the EU's implementation will be under scrutiny this year by the UN Committee, EDF Director, Catherine Naughton, presented EDF's Alternative Report on the implementation of the UN Convention by the EU presenting the key issues and priorities of the disability movement, on which the EU should take action.
Find here more about EDF's Alternative Report and the EU review process on EDF's website.
The EU has just received the "List of issues" from the UN Committee asking for more clarifications on certain issues. The EU must respond to these questions in advance of its constructive dialogue with the UN Committee in late August.