The European Commission takes side of disabled air passengers

European Disability Forum

>>> Press release

“Discrimination against disabled people is completely against the European Union ideal” says Vice-President of the European Commission, Jacques Barrot

Brussels, 16 February 2004 – “The Commission is proposing an important social measure", said today Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission, during the presentation of the new proposed Regulation on disabled air passenger’s rights. “We are not asking impossible things to European air companies, all we are requiring is a quality service for all passengers”, he added.

The European Disability Forum congratulates the European Commission for the new proposal, which would be the first-ever disability specific legislation at EU level.

“This is not only legislation that will benefit more than 10 % of European passengers, it is a clear recognition by the European Union that disabled people face regular discrimination in other fields of life beyond employment”, said Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum.

Today’s proposal foresees a high level of protection for all people in need of assistance when travelling, as well as the creation of independent bodies to deal with complaints. People with disabilities will receive assistance at airports and on board aircraft at no additional cost, a service that will be centralised at each airport in order to guarantee quality standards. Denied boarding due to a disability will become illegal.

Explaining why the European Commission refused any exemption for airline companies, Mr Barrot stressed today that the cost for assisting disabled passengers is insignificant and that the new system will allow cost reduction thanks to economies of scale. “The assistance will be organised by the airports and invoiced to the air companies who will share the overall cost”, explained the European Commissioner.

The proposal for a Regulation will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, under the co-decision procedure. Luxembourg Minister of Transport, Lucien Lux has stated to EDF that “Luxembourg will give this proposal highest priority”. The European Disability Forum calls on both institutions to ensure the Regulation’s rapid adoption under the current EU Presidency.
For press queries, please contact: Nora Bednarski, EDF Policy Officer – Tel: + 32 2 282 46 05; e-mail: or Helena González-Sancho Bodero, EDF Communication Officer: Tel: +32-2-282.46.04 E-mail:
The European Disability Forum (EDF) is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 50 million disabled citizens in Europe. EDF membership includes national umbrella organisations of disabled people from all EU/EEA countries, as well as European NGOs representing the different types of disabilities. The mission of the European Disability Forum is to ensure disabled people full access to fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe.