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european disability forum
A BATTLE THAT WE CAN WIN: DISABILITY PACT TO SAVE EUROPE 2020
21 March 2010 /// The European Disability Forum (EDF), the voice of 65 million European citizens with disabilities, met in Thessaloniki, Greece and adopted the Disability Pact declaration. This is to ensure that the strategy EUROPE 2020, to be embraced by the European Council next week, will include the Disability Pact as one of its flagship priorities. Yannis Vardakastanis, President of EDF, stressed that: "The Disability Pact is the best policy instrument to ensure real mainstreaming of disability in the European Union by promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and by developing a strong agenda engaging both the EU Institutions and Member States".
Such a political context implies a real need for coordinated actions. It is crucial for the European Commission to synchronize its disability strategy with Member States: the European Disability Pact is therefore the essential tool. EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis stressed that "The European Disability Pact will be a driving force allowing the EU and its members States (leading to a barrier free ...) 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.
In the Disability Pact declaration, the leaders of the disability movement call on the European Council:
· to adopt the European Disability Pact which commits EU Member States and EU institutions alike to work towards well-defined targets for the systematic improvement of living conditions of persons with disabilities in Europe.
· to include and integrate the European Disability Pact in Europe 2020, the strategic framework for future economic and social policies of the EU. Realising the ambitious targets about higher employment and a work force with better skills presupposes that millions of disadvantaged persons with disabilities are given a fair chance to be part of education and working life.
· to adopt the European Disability Pact as one of the flagship initiative of Europe 2020, that will bring about the necessary coordination and coherence of policies. The Disability Pact will ensure that direct policy initiatives benefitting persons with disabilities are being taken, but also that the needs of persons with disabilities are sufficiently mainstreamed in other strands of Europe 2020.
Addressing the leaders of the disability movement, Markos Bolaris, Greek Deputy Minister of Financial Affairs and Theodora Tzakri, Deputy Minister for the Interior Affairs, assured that despite the financial crisis, Greece will strive to tackle discrimination of persons with disabilities.
Background: 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.
Spring European Council: The Europe 2020 strategy will be discussed by the European Council, the Heads of States of the European Union, on 25th and 26th March 2010. The priorities and EU head Headlines target will be adopted.
Commissioner Andor and the representatives of civil society meet at the European Parliament with the Disability Intergroup on 23th March to discuss the Disability Pact. more details on EDF website
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