Commission Conference on Disability in Sofia, Bulgaria

Brussels 20/01/2005.

A Conference on equal opportunities for people with disabilities took place on 9-11 December 2004 in Bulgaria. As the European Commission finalised enlargement negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania and set out plans to start accession negotiations with Turkey and Croatia, this event brought together participants from these 4 countries.

The aim was to allow them to discuss issues of common concern in the area of disability, together this participants from the EU, and to share experience and exchange best practice concerning disability in the area of employment and social policy. The conference was organised by the Commission, in cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry for Labour and Social Policy.

Through this conference, the Commission sought to raise awareness of disability issues and demonstrate its commitment to supporting the process of EU enlargement in the candidate countries. An important theme of the event was the need for action through dialogue and a stronger civil society.

Mrs Odile Quintin, the Commission Director-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, presented the EU social model and its approach to disability, highlighting the importance of a rights-based approach to people with disabilities and outlining the range of EU activities in the area.

Mrs Christina Christova, the Bulgarian Minister for Labour and Social Policy, outlined the Bulgarian disability strategy and the thrust of recent measures in Bulgaria.

Mr Krassimir Petrov Kotzev, President of the Union of People with Disabilities in Bulgaria, presented the views of his organisation on EU enlargement and its consequences for people with disabilities in the acceding countries.

Mr Enis Yeter, Turkish Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, spoke about the recent developments in his country.

The Conference presentations and pictures are now available online at: