On the 28th of November EUD participated in the event entitled ‘Marking European Disability Card a Reality’ at the European Parliament. An open event was organised by the European Disability Forum and Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and was hosted by Members of the European Parliament Jana Žitňanská, Olga Sehnalová and Brando Benifei.
Currently, there is no mutual recognition of disability status between EU Member States, meaning that national disability cards might not be recognised in another Member State. European Disability Card is mutually recognised between eight EU countries participating in the system, on a voluntary basis and aims at ensuring an equal access to certain specific benefits for people with disabilities, mainly in the areas of culture, leisure, sport and transport.
MEP Benifei highlighted that the European Disability Card is only available in Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania, and this is not enough to ensure that the card fulfil its purpose to help people with disabilities travel more easily between EU countries and to access certain benefits while traveling.
During the event representatives from two out of eight countries that participated in the pilot project on the European Disability Card, Belgium and Finland, presented their experiences. Gauthier Coccle, from the Belgian Ministry of Social Affairs and Petra Rantamäki, from Vammaiskortti from the issuing organisation for the European Disability Card in Finland emphasised that the EU Disability Card is an important instrument that encourages collaboration, partnerships with service providers, and raises awareness on accessibility.
Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, European Commission presented the future plans for the European Disability Card. The European Commission will launch an independent study which will include thematic case studies and consultation of stakeholders. The study will evaluate the initiative and will conclude whether it was useful and cost-effective and will be published by the end of 2019. MEP Olga Sehnalová closed the event by emphasising that possible extension of the project on the European Disability Card would be very welcome.