European Disability Forum: European Parliament President Tajani strengthens the cooperation with the disability movements
The European Disability Forum’s (EDF) President met yesterday the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, who expressed his commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities and to collaboration with EDF. The implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities, the right to vote in the European elections in 2019 and the Accessibility Act were at the heart of the discussion.
President Tajani addressed the important need for the European Parliament’s offices at national level to work in partnership with the national representative organisations of persons with disabilities. He also spoke of formalising the cooperation between the European Parliament and EDF.
EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, stressed the importance of the implementation of the CRPD by the European Union (EU):
“The EU has acquired important responsibilities towards its 80 million persons with disabilities. It is crucial that the EU adopts a disability rights agenda 2020-2030 to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are mainstreamed in all EU policies. A meaningful and structured dialogue with the representative organisations of persons with disabilities should also be ensured, in line with the CRPD.”
Yannis Vardakastanis also referred to the link of the CRPD with the recently published European Pillar of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; both have to be in line with the CRPD and include persons with disabilities.
President Tajani expressed his support to the EU’s adoption of a 2020-2030 disability rights agenda counting on the cooperation with and the involvement of the disability movement for this. Mr Tajani emphasized that his aim is to reduce the distance between the European institutions and the citizens.
The disability movement in Europe is very grateful for Mr Tajani’s support for the organisation of the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities which will take place on 6 December 2017.
“I strongly support the organisation of the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities. It is a unique forum to discuss with political leaders and civil society how to improve the rights of disabled people”, said President Tajani.
EDF President also invited Mr Tajani to host this year the 2nd ‘State of the Union’ meeting with the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.
During the meeting, EDF also stressed the importance of political participation for persons with disabilities in Europe. The right to vote and be elected is a fundamental right from which persons with disabilities are often deprived for a variety of reasons. Political debates without subtitles and sign language, electoral buildings that wheel chair users cannot enter, voting ballots not provided in braille or other accessible formats, denial of the right to vote due to restricted legal capacity and many other examples can make it impossible for citizens with disabilities to participate in the elections.
“It is crucial that the European Parliament ensures access to the right to vote for all citizens with disabilities in the coming European elections in 2019”, said EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis.
President Tajani has already written to EU Member States to explain the concern of the European Parliament and to call on each Member State to take measures to ensure the right to vote for persons with disabilities. He expressed his willingness to cooperate with EDF to ensure the accessibility of the next European elections campaign and an awareness raising campaign on the right to vote.
Concerning the recently adopted disappointing report by the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament on the Accessibility Act, President Tajani expressed his support in strengthening the Act before the Parliament’s next vote in the plenary in June.
EDF is looking forward to continue working with President Tajani to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in Europe. It is particularly looking forward to working together on the organisation of the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities later this year.