Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On April 14, the EESC organised together with our member the European Disability Forum (EDF), a public hearing on the implementation by the EU of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This year, as the EU will deliver this its first implementation report to the UN, different civil society actors are working together to provide a shadow report. During the hearing, Social Platform had the opportunity to facilitate one of the workshops concerning social inclusion, employment and education pointing out how positive actions in these fields are in danger of being undermined by the EU and member states' economic and fiscal policies, following the economic crisis.

Dima Yared, representative of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights – Region Europe, emphasised the importance for civil society to contribute as much as possible. She acknowledged the EU specificity regarding the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention as it covers policies with shared competence between the EU and its member states.

The European Commission, tasked with preparing the EU report, presented the framework of the EU report and linked it to the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 that will be up for mid-term review soon. She noted that the Convention had a double implication for the EU as it impacts its policies and their implementation, but also the functioning of the European Institutions themselves. Whereas it was expected to have the report ready before the hearing, the Commission is still busy finalising it and announced it should be published before the summer this year.

Javier Güermes, from EDF, presented the preparation work done by EDF on the shadow report. The objective is to complement and answer to the EU report and to publish the final shadow report by the end of this year.

In a workshop on accessibility and consumer policies, participants questioned the competence and the responsibility of the EU regarding its implementation and monitoring: both have to be evaluated differently according to the policy at stake. The participants also agreed that the recommendations need to be measurable and therefore must take into account what can bring changes to the most people.

Looking at the UNCRPD articles concerning social inclusion, employment and education in another workshop, it became clear that the implementation of these articles has been heavily hampered during the economic crisis by the impact of the austerity policies that were pursued in different countries throughout the EU. Urgent steps need to be taken to counter this, among others through the implementation of the European Disability Strategy and by taking the UNCRPD into account in the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy.