“From the right to fair wages to the right to health care; from lifelong learning, a better work-life balance and gender equality to minimum income: with the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU stands up for the rights of its citizens in a fast-changing world.”
– Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission
On this page, you can read about the European Pillar of Social Rights.
What is the European Pillar of Social Rights?
The European Pillar of Social Rights defines 20 principles for the European Union to become more inclusive and fairer and to improve the lives of all European citizens. It was jointly approved by the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission in November 2017 which means all institutions of the European Union and all of its member states support the principles and rights expressed in the declaration.
The Pillar is divided into three chapters:
Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
Fair working conditions
Social protection and inclusion
You can find out more about:
How will the European Pillar of Social Rights benefit people with intellectual disabilities and their families?
The European Pillar of Social Rights specifically recognises the right of people with disabilities to inclusion (Principle 17):
People with disabilities have the right to income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs.
Other principles are relevant for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, for example the right to:
- inclusive education and training and access to life-long learning opportunities (Principle 1);
- person-centred support and assistance for employment and self-employment (Principle 4);
- Fair and equal working conditions (Principle 5);
- fair wages (Principle 6);
- work-life balance (Principle 9);
- social protection (Principle 11);
- unemployment benefits (Principle 13);
- adequate minimum income (Principle 14);
- home-care and community-based services (Principle 18);
- social housing; (Principle 19);
- access to essential services, including water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communication (Principle 20).
Inclusion Europe and its members have been particularly active on some of the general principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. They are presented in detail below. You can read all the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights on the European Commission’s website. Alternatively, download this booklet.
Education, training and life-long learning
Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market.
Many adults with intellectual disabilities in Europe cannot participate as active citizens in their societies, since most have only limited access to formal or informal adult education and training, Read about Inclusion Europe’s work on inclusive education.
Learn more, for example, about our Topside project for training and peer training, as well as our involvement in the Inclusive Campus Life (ICLife) project on making universities more inclusive for students and employees with intellectual disabilities.
Many of our members also run projects to develop people’s skills and give them the opportunity to gain work experience, which will help them get paid jobs. One example is Mencap’s The Right Place project.
Active support to employment
Everyone has the right to timely and tailor-made assistance to improve employment or self-employment prospects. This includes the right to receive support for job search, training and re-qualification. Everyone has the right to transfer social protection and training entitlements during professional transitions. Young people have the right to continued education, an apprenticeship or traineeship, or a job offer of good standing within 4 months of becoming unemployed or leaving education. Unemployed people have the right to personalised, continuous and consistent support. The long-term unemployed have the right to an in-depth individual assessment at the latest at 18 months of unemployment.
Two of Inclusion Europe’s members, Pentru Voi (Romania) and Lebenshilfe (Austria), won prizes in 2017 for their projects promoting inclusion of people with disabilities into the labour market, through job coaching, skills enhancement training and partnerships with companies, or thanks to a cooperation between public institutions and private companies. One member in Spain, Plena Inclusión, also runs a project offering employment to people with complex support needs.
Fair working conditions
Parents and people with caring responsibilities have the right to suitable leave, flexible working arrangements and access to care services. Women and men shall have equal access to special leaves of absence in order to fulfil their caring responsibilities and be encouraged to use them in a balanced way.
The Work-Life Balance Directive is one of the European Union’s initiatives to support workers with caring responsibilities. Inclusion Europe is advocating for a strong directive to be adopted, especially regarding carers’ leave. Read more
It is difficult for family carers to find work that allows them to meet their caring obligations. Family carers are too often in unstable employment, or not employed at all. This can lead to financial precarity. Parents of children with disabilities need support as parents and as carers to help find a balance between work and caring responsibilities.
Social protection and inclusion
Childcare and support to children
Children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality. Children have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities.
Early childhood care is also essential for the development of children with disabilities. Find out about our member Plena Inclusión’s collaboration with the private sector to improve early care services of children with disabilities (in Spanish).
Everyone has the right to timely access to affordable, preventative and curative health care of good quality.
Persons with intellectual disabilities experience poorer health and healthcare than the rest of the general population. Many do not receive the right treatment or die from avoidable deaths, as due to lack of accessible quality healthcare and information. Read Inclusion Europe study on health and health toolkit, including recommendations and good practices such as Mencap’s campaign “Treat me well” The project SantéBD from CoActis Santé, developing free information materials in Easy-To-Read for persons with disabilities and health professionals, is a recent good initiative (in French, to be extended to other languages).
Long term care
Everyone has the right to affordable long-term care services of good quality, in particular home-care and community–based services.
Article 19 of the CRPD recognizes the right for persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community and explains the States must ensure that 1) persons with disabilities have the right to choose where and with whom to live; 2) that they access community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community and; 3) that they must ensure equal access to community services and facilities as for the general population.
Inclusion Europe has developed, together with the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), a factsheet on independent living for people with intellectual disabilities. Inclusion Europe is also part of the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care. An Inclusion Europe also released in 2018 an analysis of the EU Council conclusion on Independent living.
The CRPD General Comment on article 51 states clearly that States must ensure no public or private are spent on maintaining, renovating, establishing building or creating any form of institution or institutionalization and that private institutions are not established under the guise of “community living”.
Access to social housing or housing assistance of good quality shall be provided for those in need. Vulnerable people have the right to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction. Adequate shelter and services shall be provided to the homeless in order to promote their social inclusion.
Article 19 establishes that States must ensure equal access to community services and facilities for people with disabilities as for the general population. This includes adequate housing that is accessible and affordable. Housing and housing assistance are needed also for those living in institutions to support their transition towards living independently in the community and ensure they are not forced to stay in institutions due to lack of choice or the dependence on family support. + Add link similar to long term care again. Have a look at Mencap project supporting persons with intellectual disabilities to make an informed decision about where and with whom they live and ensure they have access to the support they need to live independently in the community.
Access to essential services
The European Accessibility Act is one of the European Union’s initiatives to support workers with caring responsibilities. Article 19 CRPD establishes that States must ensure equal access to community services and facilities for people with disabilities as for the general population. It specifies that these non-disability-specific support services and facilities for the general population in the community must be available, universally accessible, acceptable and adaptable for all persons with disabilities within the community.
Everyone has the right to access essential services of good quality, including water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications. Support for access to such services shall be available for those in need.
In terms of accessibility of the information, Inclusion Europe has developed standards for easy to read and accessibility of meetings and recommendations for accessible elections.
How will the European Pillar of Social Rights be implemented and monitored?
Employment and social policies are mainly a competence of the member states. The European Commission can support the implementation of the Pillar. It can propose new laws and policies or update, complement and better enforce existing ones. One example for a new law is the Work-Life Balance Directive.
The current proposal of the European Commission for the EU budget (called Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027) aims to better align the Pillar of Social Rights and EU funding. It proposes the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) as the main European financial instrument to implement and deliver on the principles of the Pillar of Social Rights. It merges different financial instruments under the ESF+ to pool the resources and better deliver on the Pillar of Social Rights.
The European Pillar of Social Rights will be monitored by the social scoreboard. It tracks member states’ development and progress in 12 policy areas covered by the Pillar. However, the social scoreboard does not include any indicators relevant to principle 17 on the inclusion of people with disabilities. It also lacks any data on other relevant categories, such as health or education. It furthermore does not provide disaggregated data on disability for the indicators and policy areas it covers. Inclusion Europe advocates for this to change as no evidence-based policies can be designed nor any meaningful monitoring of the social pillar achievements be done without disability-specific data.
Since 2018, the principles of the Pillar of Social Rights and the analysis provided by the social scoreboard are used for country reports and recommendations drafted by the European Commission in the context of the European Semester.
How can you use the European Pillar of Social Rights?
The European Pillar of Social Rights was approved by every member state of the European Union. This means every member state of the EU has committed to the Pillar’s policies and principles.
Therefore, you can use the European Pillar of Social Rights when advocating for better services and support in your home country. This may include access to health care, employment services, inclusive education and other areas.
The European Pillar of Social Rights may also be used when advocating for what should be the priorities of your national budget or of the EU budget.
The Pillar is very important for Inclusion Europe’s advocacy work as it relates to the themes of our strategy for the upcoming 5 years. The strategy will focus each year on a principal theme related to equal rights for and the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. The themes are: Empower, Elect, Educate, Employ, and End Segregation.
Inclusion Europe’s video: The 5 E’s – our strategy for the next five years
As part of this strategy, and in relation to social rights, Inclusion Europe will draft reports on the access to social benefit, minimum income, unpaid work, poverty, and on inclusive higher education.
The European Pillar of Social Rights is a document
written by the European Union.
This text helps the European Union
to be more inclusive.
It also helps its citizens
to have a better life.
The European Pillar of Social Rights has 3 parts.
They talk about:
- getting a good job
- being treated well
when you are working;
- being protected by the government
and be part of your community.
How can this document help
people with intellectual disabilities
and their families?
The European Pillar of Social Rights says
that people with disabilities too
have the right
to be part of the community.
people with disabilities have the right to:
- have enough money
to get a good life;
- have support to find a job
and live in the community;
- work in a place
that is accessible;
- learn new things in life;
- have the same money as everyone else
for their work;
- have the time
to do things outside of work;
- be protected by the government;
- have support close to their place
and in their community;
- have support from the government
in getting a home;
- have those things that we need in our daily life
such as water, transport, banks, internet.
Inclusion Europe and its members
worked on some of these topics.
Here are the explanations of these topics.
Right to learn new things in life
Many people with intellectual disabilities in Europe
cannot be part of their community
because they don’t get an inclusive education.
A good education
is important to get a good job.
Right to have support with your job
People with intellectual disabilities have the right
to get support:
- when looking for a job,
- while they work,
- if they lose their job.
Many of our members are working on these topics.
- Pentru Voi in Romania,
- Lebenshilfe in Austria,
- and Plena Inclusión in Spain.
Right to have the time to do things
outside of work
Family members of people with intellectual disabilities
should be able to stay at home from work
if they need to.
They can use this time off
to look after their family members
without losing their jobs.
Inclusion Europe is working
to make this happen.
Right to education and good quality care
Every child has the right
to have a good life.
Children with intellectual disabilities
have the right to go
to the same schools
as other kids.
Our member Plena Inclusión also works
to give good care
to children with intellectual disabilities.
Right to go to the doctor
Everyone has the right to go to a good doctor.
It is often difficult for people with intellectual disabilities
to find a good doctor.
Information about doctors and hospitals
is often complicated.
In order to go to the doctor, you need
to be able to get easy-to-understand information.
Our member Mencap
has a project called Treat Me Well.
This project tells doctors and nurses in hospitals
how to treat people with intellectual disabilities well.
The project SantéBD offers
easy-to-read information on this topic as well.
This project is for now only in French.
Right to good quality care close to your home
People with disabilities have the right to:
- live independently;
- choose where they want to live;
- choose if they want to live
with other people;
- have home care;
- be included in their community.
With the help of other organisations,
Inclusion Europe wrote some documents
which look at what the European Union wants to do.
Every country in the European Union
says they will no longer spend money
Right to have a home
People with disabilities have the right
to live in a nice home.
No one can make you leave your place
just because you are having some problems.
If you do not have a home,
the government must help you find one.
Houses for people with disabilities
must be cheap and accessible.
People with disabilities
have the right to get support
to live independently in the community.
They must not be put
if they do not want to.
Mencap is a member of Inclusion Europe.
people with intellectual disabilities
to live independently.
Right to have things you need
in your everyday life
Everyone has the right
to have things
that are needed every day,
The government needs to make sure
that these things are there
for people with disabilities too.
Inclusion Europe has made easy-to-read rules
on how to write in a way
that is easy to understand.
How do we use
the European Pillar of Social Rights?
The rights in the European Pillar
should be respected
in each country of the European Union.
The European Commission
gives money to European countries
to help protect these rights.
It is hard to tell
if all European countries
are using this money
to support people with disabilities.
Inclusion Europe wants to know
if people with disabilities
are getting the money.
How can you use
the European Pillar of Social Rights?
If you are a self-advocate,
you can use this document
to talk about your rights.
For example, you can use it
to ask for support in:
- getting a doctor;
- getting a good job;
- getting an inclusive education.
You can ask the government
to use its money for the things
that are written in the European Pillar of Social Rights.
is very important for Inclusion Europe.
It talks about the topics
we want to support.
In the next 5 years we will focus
on 5 important topics.
These topics are:
Inclusion Europe also works also
on other topics.
If you want to find out more
check our easy-to-read articles.
Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.
This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.
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