20 April 2012 /// Under the auspices of the upcoming Cyprus EU Presidency, starting in July, EDF together with the Cyprus Confederation of Organisations of the Disabled, met Ms Sotiroula Charalambous the Cyprus Minister of Labour & Social Insurance in order to discuss the priorities of the disability movement. Ms Charalambous expressed her strong interest in disability issues.


The Republic of Cyprus will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on the 1st of July, succeeding Denmark. Ireland will take over the Presidency in January 2013.


During the upcoming EU Presidency by Cyprus, many important dossiers will be decided; some of them will influence the lives of persons with disabilities. The disability movement wants to make sure disability issues will be addressed. EDF director, Mrs Carlotta Besozzi, together with the president of the Cyprus Confederation of Organisations of the Disabled, Mr Christakis Nikolaides, met the Minister for Labour and Social Insurance of Cyprus, Ms Sotiroula Charalambous, on Thursday 19 April.

Ms Charalambous expressed her strong interest for disability issues: she reminded her Ministry has created a unit dealing on the rights of persons with disabilities and that Cyprus has ratified the UN Convention in June 2011. Cyprus has also adopted a national regulation introducing a quota system for employment of persons with disabilities in 2009: ‘Appointment of persons with disabilities in the public sector.’

This legislation was built in close cooperation with the local organisations of persons with disabilities. Minister Charalambous stated: “It is very important for the Cyprus Presidency to involve the civil society including persons with disabilities”.


The discussion focused on important issues which the Republic of Cyprus will be called to deal with and advance during its upcoming six-month Presidency:

  • negotiations on the structural funds, the definition of the Multi annual Financial Framework and public procurement, and in particular measures ensuring accessibility for persons with disabilities and the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities
  • discussions on the anti-discrimination directive in the social policy working group. The Minister vowed her support to the threatened directive and explained the Cyprus Presidency will support any positive steps.
  • discussions on two important legislative proposals that will directly affect persons with disabilities: the European Accessibility Act. Minister Charalambous highlighted the interest of the Cyprus Presidency on a proposal for EU legislation tackling access to goods and services for persons with disabilities, expected before the end of the year
  • presentation of a proposal for a European mobility card for persons with disabilities. Ms Charalambous is interested in the initiative and she believes interested EU countries should focus on the access to transport and culture.

Carlotta Besozzi, EDF Director reminded: “A structural dialogue with organisations of persons with disabilities is fundamental to achieve these rights, and we are looking forward to continuing discussions throughout the Presidency term with the different services involved at national level and in Brussels in order to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. In this respect, we welcome the importance that the Presidency attached to social and civil dialogue as announced in the Preparation of the Presidency.”

The priorities of the disability movement for the Cyprus Presidency have been developed in a policy paper released to Minister Charalambous an available to download here.