Towards a new European Disability Strategy for 2020-2030


photo by Nick Karvounis – Unsplash

While the new European Commission has just entered into office, the disability community is eager to learn more about the evaluation of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020. This is a key step towards the renewal of the strategy and to understand how it will be structured.

Despite strong UN and EU support, barriers remain

EUDisabilityConference-Nov2019-image-DGEMPL-square This evaluation started in September 2018 and its first results were shared with the participants of the European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference held in Brussels on 28 November 2019. All in all, the results in terms of implementation of the strategy appear to be positive and show the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the advocacy work conducted by Civil Society Organisations as well as the EU’s funding support, legislative activities and awareness raising campaign. On the other hand side, there have been hindering factors, notably the poor understanding by policy makers of disability related issues, the limited political will, the insufficient involvement of persons with disabilities in decision process, the limited human and financial resources and the lack of awareness of the public, including of persons with disabilities themselves, about the rights guaranteed by the UNCRPD.

Among the issues that would request more attention in the next strategy, the accessibility of building and public services as well as the intersection of ageing and disabilities scored the highest. This intersection has also been recently highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities who recommends mainstreaming the rights of older persons with disabilities into all disability and ageing-related policies and programmes.

EUDisabilityConference-Nov2019-Aguilar-image-DGEMPL During her speech, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, made clear how much the European Union has a leading role to play in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.

2020 EU Access City Awards announces winners

As a key EU policy initiative, the Access City Awards, launched in 2010, helps raise awareness of the challenges faced by persons with reduced mobility and promote accessibility initiatives in European cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The Awards Ceremony held on 29 November was chaired by Marianne Thyssen, on her last day of office as Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The 2020 Access City Award goes to the city of Warsaw (Poland), the city of Castellóde la Plana (Spain) and the city of Skellefteå (Sweden) are the second and third place winners. Chania in Greece, Tartu in Estonia and Evreux in France all received a special mention.

AGE logo AGE participated in the consultation on the renewal of the Disability Strategy, pointing out age-based biases that create unique challenges to older persons with disabilities (read our contribution here). We also took part in different events during the renewal of the Strategy was discussed and provided amendments to the report of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Disability Strategy. In addition, some of our members are involved in the local juries of the EU Access City Awards and Liz Mestheneos represent AGE in the European Jury.

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