El 30th of January, Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament organised a seminar on political participation for persons with disabilities.
Ádám Kósa, Member of European Parliament (MEP), opened the event by stating the importance of ensuring that the European Parliament (EP) elections 2019 are accessible to all voters. In this regard, the election procedure itself and the access to information and communication prior to and after the election must be fully accessible to all.
Rodolfo Cattani, Executive Committee member of the European Disability Forum (EDF), took the floor and recalled the duties of the European Union and its Member States to respect the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for rights relating to political participation and eliminate any legal and administrative barrier to exercise these rights. He thanked the Disability Intergroup for the work being undertaken and stressed the importance of having an ambitious Disability Intergroup for the next mandate.
MEP Helga Stevens moderated the first panel, during which Krzysztof Pater of the European Economic and Social Committee, presented the report concerning the actual right to vote for persons with disabilities in Europe. Associate Democratic Governance Officer Anete Erdmane, of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), presented the report “Persons with Disabilities and Ensuring their Right to Participate in Political and Public Life” and enumerated the common barriers to political participation for the voters with disabilities such as legal and administrative barriers, lack of access, limited support and funding for participation, outdated paternalistic approaches and prevailing social stereotypes.
Afterwards, Martha Sticking, researcher at the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, presented an update of the 2014 report “The Right to Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities” with key indicators to assess the political participation of persons with disabilities in the EU. Adolfo Barroso was the final presenter on the panel, explaining his experience as a European citizen and the obstacles he faced in exercising his right to vote.
MEP Marek Plura moderated the second panel, during which Stephen Clark, Director for the EP Liaison Offices, presented the campaign “This Time I’m Voting”. Pat Clarke, EDF vice-president, presented EDF’s European election campaigns which comprise: guidelines for accessible political campaigns, the “European Elections for All” petition and the #disabilityvote campaign.
MEP Marek Plura gave the closing words by expressing his wishes that the citizens of the European Union are the winners in the forthcoming elections by not leaving any one behind.