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European Commission’s thematic consultations on the post-2020 European Disability Strategy

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In October and November 2020, the European Commission carried out four thematic consultations on the post-2020 European Disability Strategy. The aim of the stakeholders’ consultations was to consult organisation of persons with disabilities and inform the European Commission of their priorities to be included in the post-2020 European Disability Strategy. 

The first thematic consultation focused on mobility, accessibility and participation. With regard to accessibility EUD highlighted that accessibility is very often understood as a concept that is only linked to either the physical or digital environment, however the definition of accessibility and what it entails varies significantly depending on the disability group in question. EUD highlighted the fundamental importance of access through sign language, which provides deaf persons with full barrier-free access to information, communication and knowledge. With regard to mobility and freedom of movement EUD emphasised that in order to meaningfully exercise freedom of movement in the EU, deaf persons must be guaranteed that a coordination system for social security systems is established and functions properly within the EU. 

During the second thematic consultation which focused on the employment and skills EUD raised the point that currently, due to the lack of different, reasonable accommodation and accessibility measures many people with disabilities do not have meaningful access to employment, despite their willingness and ability to be a part of the labour market. EUD highlighted that not focusing on enabling people with disabilities who are an available work force into the labour market is a missed opportunity for the EU, not only in order to ensure inclusion but also to ensure an overall economic and sustainable growth of the EU. EUD emphasised that currently there are no exact figures how many people with different types of disabilities are out of labour market, therefore encouraging the collection of disaggregated data by disability type would play the key role supporting the economic rationale behind the argument to foster the inclusion of persons with all types of disabilities into the labour market. It is very important to have data disaggregated by disability type in order to build an economic argument for inclusion. 

Furthermore, regarding skills, EUD highlighted that the post 2020 EDS will be an instrument for an upcoming decade, therefore it is essential that the post-2020 EDS proposes action to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to a fully digitalised world and also, they have skills to fully benefit from it. Most importantly, the post 2020 EDS should set out specific actions that would focus on the digital upskilling of people with disabilities.

The third thematic consultation focused on equality, education, access to health and justice, as well as other civil rights. In its intervention, EUD underlined the importance of having EU secondary legislation prohibiting discrimination in all areas of life. EUD also highlighted that the blockage of the Equal Treatment Directive at the EU Council has been a major gap in the area of equality. Regarding education, EUD emphasised the importance of ensuring options so that deaf learners choose the environment that will maximise their individual academic and social development. EUD expressed support for the future EU Child Guarantee, and it called onto the EU to include sign languages within the language support provided as part of the learning mobility regarding the Erasmus+ programme.

In regard to access to health and justice, EUD underlined the importance of going beyond the concept of accessibility of the built environment, and also include accessibility in sign languages for core human rights like justice and health. In the area of health, EUD emphasised the need for accessible health services that include mental health services and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Finally, with regards to other civil rights, EUD highlighted the importance of political participation. EUD stressed that to guarantee the full political participation of deaf persons, early action is needed, providing information and communication in national sign languages before, during and after an electoral period.  

The fourth and last thematic consultation discussed the topics of international cooperation and UN CRPD Governance. Regarding international cooperation, EUD called onto the EU to ensure that its development programs are fully in line with the UN CRPD. Regarding UN CRPD governance, EUD stressed the need for establish disability focal points in all EU institutions, agencies and bodies. EUD also highlighted that the collection of data disaggregated by disability type is key to ensure that policy making adapts to any possible figures. EUD underlined that lack of these figures has the risk of creating gaps in governance, both at the national and the EU levels. 

EUD would like to thank the European Commission for organising these four thematic consultations. These four thematic consultations have been part of a longer, more comprehensive consultative process between the European Commission and relevant stakeholders and Organisations of Persons with Disabilities. EUD would like to thank the European Commission for organising these consultations.

To have a better understanding of EUD’s 2020 engagement with the European Commission in preparation of the future European Disability Rights Strategy, please visit our new section in our website.   

You can also access the following documents: 
·         EUD feedback on the Roadmap of the Disability Rights Strategy 2021 – 2030;
·         SUMMARY: EUD feedback on the Roadmap of the Disability Rights Strategy 2021 – 2030;
·         EUD evaluation of the European Disability Rights Strategy 2010 – 2020

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