Brussels, 18 May 2010
EU seeks rapid ratification of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding will urge EU Member States to swiftly ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities during a May 19 Ministers’ meeting in Zaragoza, Spain. Vice-President Reding, who is responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, will tell EU Ministers in charge of disability policies that the EU must show leadership to ensure that people with disabilities are fully integrated into the economy and enjoy equal rights. Ministers will discuss the EU’s implementation of the UN Convention and provide input for a new European Disability Strategy, which will be released in the autumn and set out concrete actions for 2010-2020. The informal Ministers’ meeting is organised by the Spanish Presidency of the EU.
"I call on all EU Member States to ratify rapidly the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as soon as possible,” said Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “Disability is not only a matter of social welfare. The Convention lays down – as a matter of law – that people with disabilities must be able to fully enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms on a non-discriminatory basis. There are also huge business opportunities for companies when it comes to services and equipment destined at people with disabilities. It is the right time for Europe to show commitment and develop a solid framework to deal with people with disabilities."
This yearly informal ministerial meeting on disability provides a platform for examining the state of play in implementing the UN Convention. A report from the EU Disability High Level Group will provide further input for the work in Zaragoza. The UN Convention aims at protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities (see also MEMO/10/198). The Council must agree on a Code of Conduct so that the Convention can enter into force in the EU. The Commission will urge Member States to adopt the Code and ratify the Convention.
The Commission will commit to implementing the Convention through concrete actions in various policy fields. These actions will be set out in a new European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 to be published in the autumn. Active inclusion of people with disabilities is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy (IP/10/225) and will help meet the 75% employment target endorsed by EU leaders. The right policy framework can also benefit businesses through better employee recruitment from a wider pool of high quality workers, improved corporate image, further innovation and more marketing opportunities for services and equipment for disabled people.
The Commission will also launch a European Award for Accessible Cities. The award will be given in December 2010 to an EU city with an outstanding record in developing environmental, transportation, information and communication technologies and services that are accessible to persons with disabilities.
About 10 percent of the EU’s working age population is disabled. This figure will likely rise due to current demographic trends. Disabled people are socially and economically disadvantaged: employment rates for persons with very severe and severe degrees of disability are 19.5% and 44.1%, respectively, and they are more likely to suffer from poverty.
EU policies and people with disabilities
Report from the EU Disability High Level Group
European Award for Accessible Cities
Proposal for a Council Decision concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COM(2008) 530-1 of 28 August 2009):
Proposal for a Council Decision concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COM(2008) 530-2 of 28 August 2009):