On the 23rd of October EUD attended public hearing organised by the European Economic Social Committee on the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the years 2021 to 2027 and Cohesion Policy, the main investment policy of the EU. Cohesion Policy focuses on job creation, sustainable growth, innovation and supports the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU. In financial terms this means that the Cohesion Policy is delivered through funds, including European Regional Development, Cohesion Fun and European Social Fund. Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) is overarching Regulation that dictates common set of basic rules for seven funds including the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund.
The new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the years 2021 to 2027 includes, among others, new proposals for new Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), new European Social Fund Plus and new proposal for European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). During the hearing it was discussed how to better use these EU funds for persons with disabilities in the new financial framework.
Yannis Vardakastanis, the President of the European Disability Forum, highlighted that European Economic Social Committee passed its opinions in plenary, which incorporated concrete recommendations to strengthen the Cohesion Policy in terms of the UN CRPD. The EU and all of its member states have ratified the UN CRPD, therefore the EU budget should be a tool to implement the UN CRPD and should not support actions which are in conflict with it. Relevant regulations have to be clear that investment in inaccessible infrastructure or technology cannot be accepted. Moreover, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations must be involved in governance and monitoring committees, to prevent inaccessible operations to receive funding. Crucially, there must be a clear link between all programmes and the UN CRPD.
EUD supports EDF’s position that it is crucial to ensure that the new Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) contains strong references to the UN CRPD across the CPR and includes the UN CRPD in its legal basis. Moreover, EUD agrees that it is essential to clearly mention accessibility for persons with disabilities as criteria for selection of operations in the CPR. Accessible process, materials and reasonable accommodation for participation of persons with disabilities in the partnership and multi-level governance is absolutely necessary to be ensured in the CPR.
Regarding the new proposal for ESF+, EUD agrees with EDF priorities which are to maintain and strengthen references to the UN CRPD and include it in ESF+ legal basis. There must be a clear mention of inclusion of persons with disabilities in actions targeting the most marginalised and the funds must not be used for inaccessible infrastructure, products or services. It is essential to ensure that inclusive, accessible and meaningful involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations is guaranteed.
EUD will follow the upcoming developments regarding Common Provisions Regulation and European Social Fund Plus and will continue to advocate for the inclusive MFF.