On the 16th of September, EUD attended a webinar entitled ‘Discussion on the future of the Disability Card: What kind of Card do we want?’ Hosted by the European Disability Forum (EDF), the event focused on the future of the EU Disability Card and the work of the pilot project in eight Member States: Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia.
There were three discussion groups based on the following areas: scope (what the Card should cover); legal basis (functions and characteristics of the Card); and use and promotion. EUD attended the second discussion group, focusing on the legal basis of the Card.
Emmanuelle Grange, Head of the Unit in charge of Inclusion at the European Commission, presented the pilot project’s results and argued that persons with disabilities should not encounter any obstacles when they are using their right of free movement. However, the practical reality is that they still face many barriers, including a lack of mutual recognition of disability status. Mrs Grange further explained that the European Commission will propose an EU Disability Card in all Member States by the end of 2023.
Marthese Mugliette, first President of the Maltese National Council and Malta Federation of Organisations of Persons with Disability, then presented the legal successes and challenges of the pilot. Mrs Mugliette concluded that the Card should be used in parallel with the national disability ID card, rather than being a substitute for it.
Importantly for the deaf community, the discussion raised the point that it is essential to advocate for the Card to benefit people with different disabilities, including those which are not visible. Some participants expressed their concerns that an EU Disability Card would only be associated with people who have visible disabilities. Some had experienced communication barriers and discrimination when trying to use the Card. It was illuminating to learn more about this project from several Member States’ representatives, who explained the successes and drawbacks of the Card.
In conclusion, EUD welcomes this European Commission initiative to ensure the right to freedom of movement for persons with disabilities, including deaf people within the EU. You want find to more information, you can read EUD’s position paper on Freedom of Movement in Europe for economically active deaf persons and deaf learners.