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European Disability Forum awaits implementation of EU commitments

[EDF, Brussels, 21 February 2011] Leaders of the European disability movement debated during the weekend about the main issues that European Union institutions will be dealing with in the upcoming months. These were formed after very decisive developments in disability rights legislation and policies in 2010. European citizens are feeling the effects of the financial crisis in their everyday lives and we want to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are protected and promoted in the midst of this. The European Disability Strategy and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will serve as the supporting instruments, together with the EDF top campaign on Freedom of Movement.

EDF’s Top Campaign for 2011

Basic freedoms are enshrined by the European Union Treaties: free movement of persons, goods and services. The EDF Top Campaign for 2011 aims to remove the barriers to active citizenship, to tackle the barriers to the free movement of goods and services, and facilitate the movement of persons with disabilities. The endeavours are based on Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Accessibility is also one of the most important aspects of the European Disability Strategy. EDF calls on the European Commission to ensure that the future proposal of a European Accessibility Act can become an effective legislative tool to improve the lives of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe. EDF is ready to participate in the process of elaboration of this proposal as for the proposal of legislation on accessibility of public sector websites and websites providing basic services to the public.

A commitment to ensure that the UNCRPD is fully implemented in the EU

Further to the conclusion by the EU of the UNCRPD, the EDF board has adopted a proposal for a coordinating mechanism based on the creation of a European Disability Committee. EDF calls on the European Commission to take concrete actions based on obligations coming from the UNCRPD in areas such as the creation of an independent body, the reporting on the actions taken to ensure compliance with the UNCRPD and the full participation of organizations of people with disabilities in the implementation and monitoring of it. The European Disability Strategy is a good framework to take action in some of the areas foreseen in the UNCRP and will work to ensure the success of this strategy.

Persons with disabilities are vulnerable due to the crisis

EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis stated: “We need to send a clear message to the EU institutions and the governments of Member States that we will not compromise on the accessibility of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society despite the burden of the financial crisis.” As a result of the debate on the economic and financial crisis, we want to make sure that it will not put persons with disabilities in situations which put them at risk of social exclusion, poverty and unemployment. EDF adopted a number of action plans in these areas and is ready to participate in the constructions of effective European legislation and policies.

For more information, contact EDF: Ewa Pawlowska | Internal Communication Officer| M +32 485 64 39 93 | ewa.pawlowska@edf-feph.org

The European Disability Forum is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe. The mission of EDF is to ensure disabled people full access to fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe. EDF is a member of the Social Platform and works closely to the European institutions, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

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