AGE highlights the barriers faced by older people with disabilities in enjoying their rights

AGE replied to the EU’s report submitted for consideration by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in order to evaluate the compliance of the European Union with the disability convention.

AGE Platform Europe has contributed and endorsed the alternative report prepared by the European Disability Forum (EDF) on the implementation of the UN Convention the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the European Union. In view of the upcoming review of the List of Issues adopted by the CRPD Committee in April 2015, to which the EU has responded in May 2015, our members have decided to prepare an own contribution in order to provide more clarity around the specific barriers that older people with disabilities face and recommend action that should be taken by the EU to overcome them.

These mainly arise from the fact that older people with age-related functional limitations are rarely recognised and supported as people with disabilities. To date the EU lacks action to address the intersection of inequalities based on age on disability, which contradicts the CRPD, the EU Disability Strategy and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. As a result, there are huge discrepancies among laws and policies that target older people with support needs/limitations in their daily activities and younger people with disabilities. In addition, representatives of older people are rarely consulted by related instances and bodies, which leaves the specific situation of older people with disabilities unknown and unaddressed.

To comply with its international obligations, the EU should address the age discrimination faced by older persons with disabilities. This can be done through monitoring, data gathering and analysis, and awareness raising of the relevance of the UNCRPD for this age group. The EU should levy age barriers, including in data collection exercises. It should furthermore provide guidelines to Member States on how the Convention should apply equally to all regardless of age and include a disability rights perspective in its ageing policies. The Disability High Level Group and the Annual Work Forum could also promote good practices and policy exchange to tackling disability in old age. The European Commission could also ask the Academic Network of European Disability Experts (ANED) to extend their work so that they address age barriers in disability policies. The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) should consistently apply an old age perspective in its work on disability and involve representatives of older persons and experts on ageing issues in its work. More generally, older persons with disabilities should have a voice in all processes and consultations that concern them, including in the interservice group on disability among many others.

The Union should also revise its funding conditions to NGOs to allow for a better mainstreaming of disability and gender. It should adopt specific legislation such as the horizontal non-discrimination directive and the Accessibility Act to adequately protect older people with disabilities; moreover it should take into account their specific needs in the implementation of existing legislation, such as the Victims’ Directive. In our paper we furthermore suggest the EU to undertake a pilot project aiming to support Member States in implementing the right of people with old age-related disabilities to live independently in the community, as part of their obligations under the Convention. Last, the EU should keep a close eye on the impact of austerity to people with disabilities and older people and mobilise the European semester process to address their poverty and threat to adequate standard of living.

Useful links:

AGE’s submission to the CRPD Committee

Joint civil society report to the CRPD Committee regarding EU’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention (add link to previous article)

For more information you may contact Nena Georgantzi, Policy Officer,

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