European Union Report on Implementation of the Disability Convention: comprehensive, but conservative
The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) by the European Union (EU) was a landmark in the fight for equal opportunities for all Europeans. Still, similarly important are mechanisms to ensure that CRPD provisions are actually put into practice and that disability is indeed mainstreamed in all policies.
Therefore, Inclusion Europe welcomes the publication of the first Report on the implementation of the UN CRPD by the European Union, a comprehensive account of the measures taken by the European institutions to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are considered in all relevant legislative proposals, as well as in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of EU policy. The European Commission was right in supporting a study to analyse the extent to which current laws and policies are aligned to the CRPD.
While the report contains a lot of information, Inclusion Europe has also found some parts of the document lacking a critical evaluation of the facts presented. For example, the 2008 proposal for an anti-discrimination legal framework in areas outside employment is mentioned as a legislative proposal, despite the process having been postponed because of failure to achieve consensus among Member States. In addition, the Commission has so far not announced a proposal for a European Accessibility Act, nor give any indication about a follow-up to the EU Agenda for the Rights of Child, or any measures taken to align this Agenda to the CRPD provisions on children with disabilities.
On the topics of legal capacity and political participation, the Commission has also taken a rather conservative approach by claiming a lack of legal competence. Not even in their area of competence, the fight against discrimination, the report does not mention any concrete steps to remove barriers for people with intellectual disabilities under guardianship and allow them to access employment, community based services, or exercise their right to vote. With all the publicity given to the European elections, it is disappointing that political participation has not been acknowledged as an area where the EU could provide an impulse to end discrimination against citizens with disabilities.
While the report is clearly valuable, offering an extensive overview of policies related to the issue of disability in the Europe Union, Inclusion Europe believes the Commission could have taken a more proactive and ambitious approach, one that could have helped move the agenda forward. In that respect, organisations of people with disabilities could have given valuable input, had they had sufficient time to comment on the report before its publication. Nevertheless, the document is an important first step, one Inclusion Europe hopes will be followed by more concrete proposals and actions.