European Disability Forum: EDF & Commissioner Crețu share commitment to use EU funds to build an inclusive & accessible Europe
European Disability Forum (EDF) President, Yannis Vardakastanis, met today [18 July] the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Crețu. During the meeting the following issues were discussed: the use of the European Union (EU) funds for accessibility and non-discrimination, partnership with organisations of persons with disabilities and the future of EU budget and Cohesion Policy.
Commissioner Crețu emphasised the importance of cohesion policy, aiming at reducing disparities among EU Member States, in bridging the gap between the EU and its people. “The interests of the 80 million Europeans with disabilities are very important to me. We work in close partnership with the European Disability Forum for our common objective of a social and inclusive Europe,” said Commissioner Crețu.
EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, highlighted the positive impact the European funds have in the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) in Europe. For instance, the EU funds are used to finance the work that EU countries do to promote accessibility and non-discrimination. In this way, they contribute to the removal of barriers that hinder the full participation in society of persons with disabilities, elderly people, and other groups. However, EDF asked the Commissioner to have a more vigilant approach in ensuring these provisions are respected.
EDF Director, Catherine Naughton, referred to the cohesion policy as an important tool to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; all have to be in line with the CRPD and include persons with disabilities.
Yannis Vardakastanis urged the European Commission to continue promoting non-discrimination and partnership with civil society organisations. He also called on the European Commission to finance capacity building of organisations of persons with disabilities so that they can meaningfully contribute to the use and monitoring of the EU funds.
During the meeting, EDF’s President also stressed the importance of the future EU budget to allocate adequate resources to cohesion policy and to keep the fight against discrimination and poverty as a top priority.
Commissioner Crețu expressed her support to the EU’s implementation of the CRPD in the development of the future cohesion policy and the future of EU finances counting on the cooperation with and the involvement of the disability movement.
“I invite all partners and citizens to participate in the debate launched by the European Commission President Junker on the future of Europe, and the last one on the future of the EU finances,” said Commissioner Crețu.
EDF’s President invited Commissioner Crețu to the 4th European Parliament for Persons with Disabilities on 6 December 2017. The European Disability Movement will welcome the dialogue about the added value of EU Funds to removing barriers to accessibility and social inclusion of persons with disability today and in the future.
EDF is looking forward to continue working with Commissioner Crețu to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe.