At the 2017 Annual Convention for Inclusive Growth (ACIG), that took place on the 24th April, the European Commission discussed with civil society representatives, including the EUD, how we can create better opportunities for disadvantaged young people, such as young persons with disabilities, to participate in society and access the labour market. The Convention, which was opened and closed by the Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, and Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, saw panel debates and presentations by young people, including young people with disabilities that have encountered various obstacles of various kinds while trying to participate in society or trying to find employment.
The event which kicked off with a discussion on the European Pillar of Social Rights initiative and moved on to debates in workshops about specific issues where progress is needed if the EU is to deliver sustainable, long-term inclusive growth. This year, the Convention emphasised the issue of the social inclusion of young persons. Indeed, while the employment and social situation in the European Union has been gradually improving since the end of the crisis, many young Europeans still struggle with social exclusion and poverty. Through presentations, workshops and interactive sessions, the Convention stimulated the exchange of ideas and best practices to create more and better opportunities for young people in the European Union. It looked at several key aspects, such as youth unemployment, child and youth poverty, intergenerational fairness and social inclusion challenges of young people – including young people with disabilities.
During the Convention, one of the workshops (workshop 5) addressed social inclusion challenges that young people with disabilities face. Some of these challenges include: access to community-based services, access to inclusive education and to the labour market, their right to inter alia, family life, community living, freedom of association and protection from violence and access to justice. The workshop was an opportunity to discuss the specific obstacles to social inclusion that young persons with disabilities, including young deaf young persons, are confronted with today and to exchange existing solutions and best practices as well as potential further action by the EU and the Member States.
Moreover, the EUD together with EASPD (European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities), EDF (European Disability Forum), ENIL (European Network on Independent Living) and Spina Bifida organized a side event: Eddie’s journey to choice and control: a case for independent living in the city. The event presented Eddie’s journey from living in an institution to an independent life in the community. During the event, participants were encouraged to develop proposals for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. The interactive approach helped the participants to better understand barriers and solutions. The side event brought attention to the current EU initiatives on youth that need to be made accessible for youth with disabilities. It showed a practical example of including young persons with disabilities. The added value of the event was to bridge the gap between a policy discussion and the daily life of a concrete person with a disability.
The EUD learned many good practices and approaches that must be mainstreamed in the European legislation for young persons with disabilities in order for them be fully included into society, and will use them in future advocacy strategies.