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Realising Rights: Equality Bodies and People with Disabilities. Supporting the Review of the European Union Disability Strategy 2010-2020

February 17th 2015

An Equinet Perspective

The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is at its halfway mark and is under review. The list of actions developed for implementing this strategy for the first five years is coming to a close and will need to be reviewed and renewed for the second five years of the strategy. Equinet is seeking to contribute to this review and to the renewal of the list of actions with the publication of this perspective.

Overview

The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is at its halfway mark and is under review. The list of actions developed for implementing this strategy for the first five years is coming to a close and will need to be reviewed and renewed for the second five years of the strategy. Equinet is seeking to contribute to this review and to the renewal of the list of actions with the publication of this perspective.

This perspective has been developed on the basis of a survey of Equinet members about their work with people with disabilities. It seeks to capture the focus and strategy of the work of equality bodies across different Member States and to communicate learning from this that would be relevant for the further evolution of the European Disability Strategy at this point of review and renewal.

Equinet input on 2010-2020 EU level disability strategies

Equinet previously published an opinion on EU level disability strategies. This was to communicate the learning from the work of equality bodies to the European Commission as the process of preparing the strategy was underway. This opinion suggested five areas that the new strategy could usefully address:

  • Reasonable accommodation, including developing guidance for employers and education and training providers and supporting the awareness of rights to reasonable accommodation among people with disabilities;
  • Advocacy, including publishing a compendium of good practice in advocacy services to people with disabilities and conducting a study on the participation of people with disabilities in decision making in politics, business and public sector institutions;
  • Tools for equality, including: Enacting the proposed Equal Treatment Directive on Discrimination outside of the labour market; introducing a requirement in law on public bodies in Member States to have due regard to equality in carrying out their functions; publishing case studies of good practice by NGOs and trade unions in supporting implementation of equal treatment legislation; developing disability mainstreaming; establishing standards for services to people with disabilities; and developing data systems;
  • Stereotyping, including reporting on the nature and extent of stereotyping of people with disabilities and on good practice to combat this stereotyping within educational establishments;
  • Multiple discrimination, including preparing reports to establish the particular experience and situation of people with disabilities at the intersections with other grounds and taking action to support service providers to people with disabilities to take account of these intersections.

Suggestions for next phase of the Disability Strategy

The renewed European Disability Strategy should be values led, equality focused, and rights based:

  • The values set out in the Treaties, in particular those of non-discrimination, equality and participation, could explicitly inform the objectives, actions, and evaluation of the Strategy.
  • The standards set in all six fields of the Charter of Fundamental Rights need to guide action taken under the Strategy with a focus on both protecting and fulfilling these rights.
  • The Strategy should encompass all areas covered by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, advance the effective implementation of the UNCRPD at European and Member State levels, and ensure that UNCRPD jurisprudence and Concluding Observations serve as a resource for all stakeholders.

The renewed European Disability Strategy needs to advance the wider infrastructure for equality for people with disabilities:

  • The Directive to address discrimination beyond the labour market on the ground of disability among others should be enacted and implemented.
  • Guidance and support for service providers to implement systems and practices for making reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities within the public and private sectors should be developed.
  • The Accessibility Act should be enacted as part of the Strategy.
  • The provisions of the recent European Directive on public procurement should be used to stimulate and support new initiatives in procurement policies and practices to advance equality for people with disabilities.
  • Disability mainstreaming at Member State and European levels should be further developed and supported as part of a wider non-discrimination/equality mainstreaming practice with particular attention given to disability mainstreaming in the European Semester for the Europe 2020 strategy.

The current themes of the European Disability Strategy continue to have relevance and need to be maintained. However, the renewed European Disability Strategy should add to and deepen these themes:

  • Reducing levels of under-reporting of discrimination by people with disabilities, in particular people with intellectual disabilities, people with mental health issues, and people with sensory disabilities should be a focus in the Strategy with a view to making rights real.
  • Combating stereotyping and stigma should be a focus within the strategy, with particular attention to stereotyping and stigmatisation of people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health issues.
  • Enhancing the experience of people currently within institutions and making progress on deinstitutionalisation should remain a significant focus for the strategy.
  • Social protection and poverty issues should be brought more to the forefront through actions that ensure that new public resources coming available are used to reverse the impact of the economic crisis on people with disabilities.
  • The focus on employment of people with disabilities should involve ensuring that employment of people with disabilities is advanced in National Reform Programmes and through Country Specific Recommendations.
  • The focus on equality could usefully address the establishment and operation of an effective infrastructure for equality for people with disabilities within private and public sector institutions.
  • Guidance and support for employers and educational and training establishments that enable systems and practices for making reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. should be developed and implemented as part of the Strategy.

The renewed European Disability Strategy should identify the importance of the work of equality bodies to the effective implementation of the Strategy. It should be concerned to ensure the full involvement of equality bodies in the various European and Member State structures with responsibilities for the Strategy. It should enable continued access to resources for the work of equality bodies on the ground of disability from European funding sources.

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Realising Rights: Equality Bodies and People with Disabilities (2014)
Realising Rights: Equality Bodies and People with Disabilities (2014)
Des droits pour tous: contribution des organismes de lutte contre les discriminations à l’évaluation de la Stratégie 2010-2020 de l’Union européenne en faveur des personnes handicapées
Des droits pour tous: contribution des organismes de lutte contre les discriminations à l’évaluation de la Stratégie 2010-2020 de l’Union européenne en faveur des personnes handicapées