What is the European Disability Card?
The European Disability Card (EDC) is an initiative of the European Commission that aims to promote equal opportunities and social inclusion for people with disabilities, in terms of their right to freedom of movement. The EDC aims to provide persons with disabilities evidence of disability status that is recognised across all EU Member States, in order to ensure access to a range of benefits to cardholders. However, due to the length of the process to develop an EDC, the date it will become operational is yet to be determined.
What did the pilot project of the European Disability Card entail?
In 2016, the EU Commission set up a pilot project to trial an EDC in 8 EU Member States. The pilot project lasted until 2019, so it is now closed, however most pilot countries kept the EDC scheme running.
What is the future of the European Disability Card?
The European Commission conducted an assessment study of the pilot project which confirmed the positive value of the EDC. In light of this, included as a flagship initiative of the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021 – 2030, the Commission committed to produce a proposal for an EDC by the end of 2023.
The implications of the final version of the Card will vary significantly depending on the trajectory of the EU policy/legal process. It is still unclear whether this proposal will be a policy commitment (e.g. an initiative) or a legal obligation (e.g. a regulation or directive). Therefore, the upcoming EDC will differ from the version used during the pilot project. Indeed, the final format of the Card will be negotiated amongst the EU institutions this year (2023).
Who will be eligible for the European Disability Card?
This will likely vary somewhat on a Member State basis, however, broadly speaking, persons with a registered and recognised disability in the country/countries in which they received this, will be eligible to apply for the EDC once it is operational.
What benefits will the European Disability Card offer?
Once the EDC is operational in all EU Member States, the benefits it offers may vary from country to country, but in general, the EDC will entitle cardholders to discounts and/or free access to various cultural, leisure, and sport activities, as well as to some public transport services when moving across the EU.
Do I need the European Disability Card?
If you have a disability, you should have the choice as to whether you wish to apply for the EDC or not, as this is up to you. The EDC has the potential to be a fundamental tool for persons with disabilities – including deaf persons – to ensure their enjoyment of the right to freedom of movement. The EDC should ensure the mutual recognition of disability status across the EU which will ensure access to certain benefits in the sectors within the scope. However, for now, the scope of the EDC, as well as further details, are still uncertain until the Commission publishes its proposal by the end of 2023, and this is negotiated in the EU institutions.
As an EU citizen, what can I do to advocate for an ambitious European Disability Card?
The Commission has opened a public consultation process to receive input, suggestions and feedback from civil society, organisations of persons with disabilities, and other relevant stakeholders. This will help the EU Commission to draft the proposal on the EDC, in terms of the final format of the Card. You can share your views with the European Commission until May 5th 2023.
Where can I find out more information about the EU Disability Card?
You can visit the EU Disability Card website, and to learn about EUD’s position on the EU Disability Card, you can read our policy analysis and recommendations on the EUD website.