To live independently and in a self-determined way; to chose your own place of residence; to get fair money for good work; to have a say in politics – many of us take this for granted. It’s a fact of everyday life. But for many people with disabilities, this is anything but a matter of course. They struggle for social participation and for their right to live independently.
I hope that we have contributed to improving their living conditions and opportunities for participation: On July 13, the Petitions Committee (PETI) of the EU Parliament adopted the report "Equal rights for people with disabilities.
Ensure freedom of movement for people with a disability!
With this report we want to achieve better compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from 2015.
We explicitly mention the right to live independently. In concrete terms, this means: freely choosing one's own place of residence, a right to inclusive education, the guarantee of democratic rights, such as the right to vote, and access to the open labor market and adequate remuneration.
As an important step in this direction, the scope of the EU disability card should be extended to ensure the free movement of people with disabilities across the EU.
Another important concern is accessibility. Buildings, transport and communications must be accessible, and this also includes accessibility on the Internet. We must also look at our own noses here: Among other things, for instance, the petitions portal should be more accessible! The petition process for all individuals and organizations in the EU, especially for people with disabilities, must be more visible. EU institutions should work for accessibility as well as against discrimination.
Children with disabilities are a central concern in our report. They need access to regular schooling, as stipulated in Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or accessible digital tools, which should be widely disseminated.
In addition, our report highlights the right to the best possible health status and access to health care. We point out that people with disabilities are most often discriminated against, especially people with intellectual, psychosocial and mental disabilities, as well as women and girls, migrants and members of the LGBTQ community with disabilities.
Europe needs to hear these voices!
Many EU citizens are excluded from elections, including elections to the European Parliament, because of their disabilities or mental health issues. That is why the Commission, especially in view of the next European elections in 2024, should seek close exchanges with Member States to ensure the democratic rights of people with disabilities - in particular, this concerns the cases of people with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities.
I am glad that the vote was very clear and positive with no votes against (3 abstentions). The situation of people with a disability should not and must not be controversial. They deserve every support in the struggle for their rights and in the fight against discrimination.
All compromises were accepted. This shows that the members in the Petitions Committee worked well together. Over a period of four to five months, I worked as rapporteur to ensure mutual information and exchange. The reward for this commitment are positive compromises that address the problems and challenges for people with disabilities and propose concrete solutions.
EDP Executive Vice-President and MEP
Executive Vice President