On 14th February 2023, EUD attended the 5th European Commission’s (the Commission) Disability Platform meeting which included several important updates relating to the flagship initiatives of the EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030 as well as to the EU’s reporting to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
The meeting was kicked off by Ms Katarina Ivankovic-Knezevic, Director of Social Rights and Inclusion, the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL). Following this, Ms Alison Crabb, Head of the Disability and Inclusion Unit of DG EMPL, gave a presentation of the draft Work Programme of the Disability Platform 2023. Ms Crabb explained that the EU’s reporting to the UN CRPD Committee will be a priority. The next Disability Platform meeting will be held in June.
There was a discussion on the three thematic priorities proposed by civil society organisations – cost of living crisis and persons with disabilities; disability assessment framework; and social protection in terms of the EU and Member States actions to protect persons with disabilities, and their support services.
Representatives from DG EMPL provided updates on the flagship initiatives of the EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030 which included a few words from Commissioner for Equality, Ms Helena Dalli.
Ms Inmaculada Plancencia Porrero, Senior Expert, DG EMPL: Disability and Inclusion, provided a progress update on the AccessibleEU Centre explaining that they closed the contract to launch AccessibleEU. The contract started at the end of December 2022 and is renewable 3 times. Ms Plancencia Porrero explained that the AccessibleEU Centre will focus on built environment, transport, ICT and a combination of both with national experts who will work at national level to implement a number of tasks. There will also be an Advisory Board consisting of experts, CSOs etc. who will advise the Commission about matters relating to accessibility within the prescribed areas of focus. Some of the activities of the Centre will include awareness and capacity building e.g. accessibility; building a repository of information; and events at national and EU level (88 in total per year). The AccessibleEU website will be launched before the summer.
Ms Monika Chaba, Policy Officer, DG EMPL, provided an update on the Disability Employment Package (the Package), stating that the first deliverable of the Package was on employment services and came out last year. Their team have signed a contract for the study on alternative employment models which will support the outcomes of the Package. Finally, the career guidance document must be revised substantially so it should be ready in March. Members of the Disability Platform were encouraged to get involved on establishing national targets for employment of persons with disabilities.
Ms Hana Velecka, Policy Officer, DG EMPL, gave an overview of the progress on the EU Disability Card (the Card) – the Impact assessment is underway and should be ready before the summer; they have contracted a study that will serve as an analytical background to the impact assessment. EUD is providing feedback to the survey of this study. The public consultation on the Card is now open until 5th May 2023 which EUD encourages all its member organisations to provide feedback to.
Finally, Ms Placencia Porrero provided an update on the process of the preparation of the next UN CRPD report. Last year in April 2022, the UN CRPD Committee adopted a new list of issues on the EU’s implementation of the Convention. Following this, the Commission has been working to respond to the list of issues. Ms Placencia Porrero mentioned that, earlier this year, there was a meeting with civil society organisations on their reaction to the list of issues and to gather input – EUD attended and participated. The preliminary internal draft report responding to the list of issues is ready but now they would like to hear from civil society organisations to see if we have any further feedback to the list of issues to share. Following this, the report will be shared via the Council Working Group on Human Rights in the coming weeks before it is shared with the UN CRPD Committee.
The 5th meeting of the Disability Platform provided key updates on a number of aspects relating to EUD’s work – notably the EU’s reporting to the UN CRPD Committee but also the flagship initiatives of the EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030. EUD will continue to work to ensure the deaf perspective is mainstreamed within each of the flagship initiatives.