Digitalisation, EU funds, anti-discrimination laws, employment strategies … people with intellectual disabilities are affected by nearly all EU laws and policies. This is why Inclusion Europe has joined a call by the European Disability Forum, eight Members of the European Parliament and other organisations asking the European Commission to move its Disability Unit (currently at Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) to the Secretariat-General. This would help ensure that disability is mainstreamed across all EU policies. The Open Letter recognises that a Commissioner-designate for Equality with a responsibility for the implementation of the UN CRPD is a step in the right direction. But it also notes that there is a risk that the Unit dealing with disability will not be able to mainstream the UN CRPD in all relevant policies if it is not placed in a central position within administration, and receives the funding and staff needed.
The Open Letter, addressed to President-elect Ursula Von der Leyen, Vice-President-designate Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner-designate Helena Dalli can be read below:
Dear President-elect Von Der Leyen,
Vice-President designate Schinas,
It is a sign of clear progress that there is a Commissioner-designate for Equality with an assigned responsibility for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is with concern, however, that we see that this is not backed up by a change in the Commission services. If the current structure is not modified, the Unit in charge of disability issues, under the supervision of Commissioner for Equality, will not be able to adequately fulfil its crucial role in mainstreaming the obligations enshrined in the Convention across all the relevant Commission’s policies.
The full implementation of the Convention touches upon many different Commission responsibilities and policies: recruitment and selection of EU officials, internal market and digital market competences, transport, research and development, EU funds, international cooperation, and interinstitutional coordination, among many others.
This is why the Unit in charge of disability needs to move to the Secretariat-General. It should, furthermore, be fully dedicated to disability issues. This move will ensure that the Unit has the horizontal perspective necessary to ensure the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities, and the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the EU is a State Party.
Such a move is not unprecedent. In the Commission mandate 2009-2014, the Unit moved from DG Employment to DG Justice along with other Commission services tackling equality policies. The move was reversed in the mandate 2014-2019.
Moreover, this Unit should also be properly funded and staffed, if the EU is to realise its commitment to improve the lives of over 80 million Europeans with disabilities.
We therefore call on the elected Commission to establish a Unit fully dedicated to the realisation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under the Secretariat-General, as soon as possible. We further ask that the Commission implements the necessary changes to ensure that they can fulfil its mandate adequately. It is an essential move to ensure that EU policies do not leave persons with disabilities behind.
- MEP Jaroslaw Duda – European People’s Party – Poland
- MEP Dragoş Pîslaru – Renew Europe – Romania
- MEP Maite Pagazaurtundúa – Renew Europe – Spain
- MEP Kim van Sparrentak – Greens/EFA – Netherlands
- MEP Alexis Georgoulis – GUE/NGL – Greece
- MEP Sira Rego – GUE/NGL – Spain
- MEP Manu Pineda – GUE/NGL – Spain
- MEP Rosanna Conte – Identity & Democracy – Italy