Copenhagen, 27 May 2012 - The 15th annual general assembly of the European Disability Forum (EDF) brought the whole disability movement in Copenhagen. Among all the crucial topics, the 170 participants focused on how to make sure that the EU will deliver results on the disability strategy 2010-2020. Besides, more than ever, austerity measures are now causing alarming situations for people with disabilities in Europe. The disability movement adopted a strong resolution on the human rights way out of the crisis: five weeks before the EU summit focusing on growth. The objective of the resolution is to ensure the EU decision makers will include 80 million persons with disabilities in the growth strategy.


Opening the general assembly, Diane Richler, the current chairwomen of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), prompted the 170 participants: “The international disability movement has to keep strong and united to ensure the implementation of the UN Convention worldwide.” She also announced that Yannis Vardakastanis will take over the chairmanship of IDA from July.


The disability movement discussed about the implementation of the European Disability Strategy 2010 2020, and debated with a representative from the European Commission. It was the opportunity to focus on key upcoming legislation and programmes such as the European Accessibility Act, the structural funds, and the multiannual financial framework. These instruments are crucial as they will shape the European disability policies for the next decade.


The crisis is hitting persons with disabilities really hard in Europe. Furthermore, austerity measures have even degraded a situation already precarious. The general assembly adopted a strong resolution on the human rights way out of the crisis five weeks before the EU summit focusing on growth. The objective of the EDF resolution is to make sure the EU decision makers will include persons with disabilities in the growth strategy. EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis said “Growth cannot be achieved without the participation of 80 million persons with disabilities: the measures that will be adopted at the EU summit have to be really ambitious and inclusive.”

Important provisions of the resolution are focusing on the crucial issues which will be addressed in the EU June Summit. EDF wants the EU decision makers to lay down the foundations of a new deal for Europe, promoting sustainable growth for all, to use accessibility driver for innovation in the design of ICT devices and services for full implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe. It is also essential to develop and modernise accessible infrastructures.

EDF also vows to use structural funds to support the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities, including through maintaining the ex-ante conditionalities. The resolution also highlights how employment will be boosted through the development of sustainable services promoting independent living for all persons with disabilities as well as life in the community.

Mr Vardakastanis concluded the meeting sending a message to the EU: “Persons with disabilities will closely monitor further developments and the actions taken by governments and will use all democratic instruments to be included and make the voice of the European citizens with disabilities heard.”

Find EDF resolution on the human rights way out of the economic crisis attached and on EDF website