The European Commission just released its package for the forthcoming European Disability Card. This proposal comes after 15 years of tireless advocacy work from the European Disability Movement. Taking experience from the pilot project that took place between 2017 and 2022 in 8 different EU Member States. The lessons learnt from the pilot project combined with an extensive public consultation allowed the Commission to come up with a new package. The legislative initiative will follow the ordinary co-decision procedure through the European Parliament and the Council. Practically, this means that the proposal will be discussed and probably approved in the next 7-8 months.
A much-needed reminder: The European Disability Card undertook a trial phase in 8 European Countries. Following its conclusive outcome, the European Commission decided to expand it to the whole European Union.
It’s a Directive! – The main area of concern was whether the proposal would take the form of a directive or a regulation. A Regulation means that the legislation must be directly and immediately transposed from the date it enters into force without the need for national governments to take any further steps to implement a Regulation. In contrast, a Directive requires Member States to achieve a particular result but leaves them the freedom to choose how to do so. Directives must be transposed into national law within a specific timeframe, often two years.
Why so important? – The EDC serves to reinforce the freedom of movement of deaf people in the EU. Practically, the proposal foresees that each EU Member State will automatically recognise the disability status of a deaf person when travelling if that deaf person is recognised as a person with disabilities in its own country. Furthermore, the card will allow deaf people to benefit from preferential treatment allowed to persons with disabilities by the national government (e.g.: free museums, specific access in airports,…) but will not entail any claim to social security and social assistance benefits (e.g.: disability allowance or unemployment benefits schemes).
One of the longstanding claims of EUD and its members is to have the disability specified in the card; we received several requests from our members to have the mention of “deaf people” appearing on the Card. This has specifically been raised to the Commission, and we deeply regret it does not appear in the package. However, EUD welcomes the proposal and will closely follow the legislative process through the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
More information: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_23_4331