Face to face with VAN ROMPUY: The disability pact gets the EU president's attention

16 April 2010 - The European Disability Forum EDF, the voice of 65 million European citizens with disabilities, met the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy to ensure that the strategy Europe 2020 will include the Disability Pact in its flagship priorities.

On 16 April 2010 Herman Van Rompuy received the leaders of the European disability movement Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF President, and Pierre Gyselinck, President of the Belgian Disability Forum. The new permanent President of the European Council stressed “I understand the necessity of a new approach to disability policies in the EU.”

Europe 2020, the strategy for economic and social development in the next decade will be adopted by the European Council, the Heads of States of the European Union, on 16th of June 2010. Such a political context implies a real need for coordinated actions. It is crucial for the European Commission to synchronize its disability policies with Member States: the European Disability Pact is therefore the essential tool. EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis reminded that “The European Disability Pact will be a driving force allowing the EU and its members States to sail off to a barrier free Europe for persons with disabilities”. Through this Pact, Europe 2020 strategy will give new impetus to the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, recognizing disability as a cross cutting issue. The Pact will cover employment, social protection, education, growth and competitiveness, e-inclusion policies and research. Mr Van Rompuy raised: “It is necessary to give more substance to social inclusion targets.”

As proposed by the Disability movement, Herman Van Rompuy endorsed the State of the Union on Disability: a biannual meeting between the European Disability Forum, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament to assess measures taken and report to the European Council.

Note to the Editor:

Why is the Disability Pact necessary?

The Disability Pact for 2010 to 2020 is a coordinated and sustainable disability policy framework at European and national level, with clear and long-term direction and cooperation between Member States and the European Union. At the moment, there is no long-term EU agenda on disability that involves a clear joint commitment from the Institutions and its Member States. The 27 member states are developing 27 different national disability action plans. Coordination between the European and national actions, and clear and measurable objectives linked to the EU strategy for growth and jobs is the road to a barrier-free Europe. Everyone will benefit from its adoption: the member States, the European Commission and the 65 million persons with disabilities.

The European Economic and Social Committee calls for a Disability Pact

Wednesday 17 March the European Economic and Social Committee approved unanimously (151 votes in favour and 3 abstentions) an exploratory option on “people with disabilities: employment and accessibility by stages for people with disabilities in the EU Post Lisbon 2010 strategy”.

The opinion requested by the Spanish Presidency in the framework of the trio Presidency programme agreed with Belgium and Hungary calls for a specific initiative on disability to be included in the EU 2020 strategy, through a European Disability Pact “laying the foundations for a European policy on Disability”

Source: EDF