3 December - Day of Persons with Disabilities

Europe celebrates the Day of Persons with Disabilities – Creating conditions for independent living.

To mark the European Day of People with Disabilities, the European Commission organized in cooperation with EDF a conference in Brussels on 3 and 4 December. Representatives from the disability movement and decision-makers focused on "Creating conditions for independent living". The Conference's goal was to contribute to a better understanding of issues related to independent living, in particular economic autonomy, community services and assistive technologies.

Vladimir Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities addressed the disability leaders and stakeholders with Juan Carlos Ramiro Iglesias, Spanish EU Presidency 2010 representative and Ministry of Health General Director for Disability Policy and Jean-Marc Delizée, State Secretary for Social Affairs from the Belgian Federal Government. 

Persons with disabilities propose 19 clear actions for the EU

As the umbrella body of the European disability movement, EDF made in its statement 19 concrete proposals for improvements of European policies related to independent living. The right of persons with disabilities to live independently in the community with choices equal to other people is enshrined in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This right is at the core of equalizing opportunities of persons with disabilities, as it is the foundation for equality in all spheres of life. However, the realisation of the enjoyment of this right also presupposes fundamental changes in several sectors of society. To live independently included in the community requires that support services are available, that the community is physically accessible, that services provided in the community are open to persons with disabilities, that local decision-making structures are accessible. In this way, the realisation of the right to independent living is a key to understand what it takes to fully implement the UNCRPD.

Donata Vivanti, Vice-President of EDF stressed: “The disability movement fully welcomes the decision by the Council to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities. But we are very disappointed to learn that the European Commission will wait for ratifications by all Member States before it will let European policy-making be bound by the obligations of the Convention. We urge the Spanish Presidency to work towards the confirmation of the ratification by the EU without any further delay”.

Erzsebet Szollosi, Vice President of EDF added: “Independent living is a fundamental right and closing the institutions is one of the challenges that we need to tackle. EDF and persons with disabilities will continue to drive the agenda forward.” As Senada Halicevic President of the Association for self advocacy in Croatia, reminded: “My real life began when I was 30 years old, it began the day I left the institution to live my own life: the life I choose. All persons with disabilities living in institutions must have the opportunity to start living their real life.”

Source: EDF Press Release