European Disability Forum: European Semester – What are Commission’s recommendations on disability?
On 5 June, the European Commission released its Country Specific Recommendations to all 28 Member States as part of the European Semester process.
The European Semester is a cycle of primarily economic and fiscal policy coordination within the EU, although it has recently begun to focus on social policy too. Its focus is on the 6-month period from the beginning of each year, hence its name – the ‘semester’.
A key part of this process is the release of the Country Specific Recommendations, outlining the European Commission’s view of what Member States must do better.
So, how successful was the European Disability Forum (EDF) in getting the European Commission to prioritise disability issues in its recommendations? Well, all in all, eighteen countries saw a specific mention of disability in their recommendations. This was the case for Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
In almost all cases these mentions related to either fostering better support for persons with disabilities to enter the labour market, reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion, educational attainment and, albeit to a lesser extent, community-based services and independent living. Most of these specific mentions were made in the Recitals at the beginning of the document. The recitals give contextual information outlining why the Commission has made the recommendations it has.
The recommendations themselves come in the form of between two and five numbered bullet points at the end of the document. These recommendations indicate the concrete actions the Commission advises the Member State in question to take. Only one country saw disability explicitly mentioned within the recommendations: Latvia. The specific mention of persons with disabilities in this recommendation is a positive step, and a potentially encouraging sign for the disability community in Latvia. The recommendation reads:
“Address social exclusion notably by improving the adequacy of minimum income benefits, minimum old-age pensions and income support for people with disabilities […]”
You can access the full Country Specific Recommendations for your country by clicking on this link.