Nothing about us without us: The European Parliament drives forward disability rights

29 January 2010 /// On 27 January 2009, the renewed Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and the European Disability Forum toasted the New Year in Brussels at a very well-attended event. The new President of the Intergroup - for the first time a person with a disability himself, - and the disability movement presented the Disability Pact to a hundred of activists and 20 MEPs from various political groups and nationalities.

“The historic day for persons with disabilities”

The Disability Intergroup (DI) is an informal grouping of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all nationalities and most political groups who are interested in promoting the disability policy in their work in the European and national contexts. The DI is one of the oldest Intergroups: it was established in 1980. It is currently composed of about 100 MEPs. Last December 2009, the Intergroup elected Ádám Kósa MEP (HU, EPP) as President of the DI. At the cocktail, Pál Schmitt, Vice-President of the European Parliament welcomed his Hungarian colleague and expressed his support to the disability movement. Yannis Vardakastanis, President of EDF stated: ”Today is an historic day for the 65 million persons with disabilities. Today, for the first time in the history of the Intergroup, the motto “Nothing about us without us” calling for a full participation of disabled people in all policies is becoming a reality.”

Ádám Kósa conceded: ”I have a dream that persons with disabilities will finally decide for themselves. The full ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the adoption of the Disability Pact by the EU Member States are the necessary steps to achieve this dream that I share with 65 million persons with disabilities in Europe”. The active involvement of persons with disabilities in the ongoing elaboration of the disability policy for the next decade is essential. If the principle of full participation is put into practice, the Disability Pact proposed by EDF will contribute to the development of truly inclusive societies, in which all voices are heard and persons with disabilities can help shape a better world for all.

Why is the Disability Pact necessary?

The Disability Pact for 2011 to 2021 is a coordinated and sustainable disability policy 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.

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