Do not take my spot! – The EU Disability Parking Card
On the 18th of March, EUD attended the event on the EU Disability Parking Card hosted by the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament in order to discuss the main issues about the EU Disability Parking Card, such as the different means by which the parking card was issued as well as the fraudulent use and blocking of parking spaces.
Adam Kosa, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), opened the event by stating that the confusion about the use of parking cards stems from administrative problems. Parking Cards are issued not only to people with reduced mobility but also to other people with disabilities. He also noted that the different terminologies and legal bases within the EU lead to this continued confusion. The objective would thus be to harmonise and minimise such differences.
Emmanuelle Grange, Head of Unit for Equality and Inclusion at Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion at the European Commission, presented an overview on the implementation and use of the Disability Parking Card in the EU Member States. Although the Card model is mutually recognised by all Member States, she stressed that differences persist. The issuing system is centralised in some Member States, while other Member States have decentralised systems. The differences in terms of eligibility were also noted. The question of fraudulent use was also discussed – such as the use of the card by a person to whom it does not belong, the use of the card of a deceased person, or false use and identity theft through duplicating the card to name but a few. Some Member States are trying to combat such incidents of fraud. For instance, the authorities in Belgium use a mobile application called "handy2Park", which allows the police to better control the cards and confiscate them if necessary.
Afterwards, participants had the opportunity to exchange their thoughts and views. Antoine Fobe, Head of Campaigning at the European Blind Union, considered that fraud is a problem that crosses borders and should be addressed at the European level. Mark Wheatley, Executive Director of the European Union of the Deaf, noted the problems that can arise from applications such as handy2park if we do not also consider privacy and data protection.
Marie Denninghaus, Policy Coordinator at the European Disability Forum (EDF), advocated for the need to harmonise the issuing rules into a form which would be binding among Member States. She also recommended the establishment of a comprehensive database summarising the rules of each Member State for the use of disabled parking spaces for a better understanding by card holders.
In her closing remarks, Helga Stevens, MEP, made the link between the EU disability card and the EU disability parking card but also pointed out that the two should not be integrated because not everyone has both cards. Especially since the parking card must remain reserved for those who really need it.