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What is the EU doing for people with disabilities?

A silhouette of a woman in a wheelchair and a man with a prosthetic leg standing to support each other. The concept of people with disabilities

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Citizens turn to the European Parliament to request information about the rights of persons with disabilities and what measures are in place to help them to enjoy full rights.

On 6 December 2017, the European Parliament hosted the 4th European Parliament of persons with disabilities event, bringing together delegates from organisations that represent persons with disabilities from across Europe, Members of the European Parliament and representatives of other EU institutions.

The event is an opportunity for European citizens with disabilities to meet their elected representatives and speak up for their rights. The event can be watched on EPTV on the European Parliament’s website.

In its resolution of 30 November 2017 on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy, MEPs urged the EU and its Member States to speed up their efforts to put the European disability strategy commitments fully into practice and, among other things, ‘to ensure that accessibility is a high priority and that it is better integrated into all disability policy areas’. Further information is available in the EP press release of 30 November 2017.

In a further resolution on the application of the ‘Employment Equality Directive’, adopted on 15 September 2016, the Parliament encouraged ‘the Member States to interpret EU law in such a way as to provide a basis for a concept of disability in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)’.

Legal basis

The rights of persons with disabilities are enshrined in the European treaties. Article 10 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), sets out that ‘in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation’. Article 19 also underlines that the Council may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on, disability, among other things.

Article 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is dedicated to the social integration of persons with disabilities.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were adopted on 13 December 2006. The convention is the first international legally binding instrument which sets minimum standards for rights for people with disabilities and the first human rights convention to which the EU became a party.

On 26 November 2009, the Council adopted its decision concerning the conclusion of the convention, which entered into force on 22 January 2011 for the European Union. Further information is available in the European Commission press release of 5 January 2011.

The core elements of the UN Convention are reflected in the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

European Disability Strategy 2010-2020

On 15 November 2010, the European Commission adopted the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which aims at breaking down the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in society on an equal basis. The strategy is structured in eight areas for joint action between the EU and the Member States. i.e., accessibility, participation, equality, employment, education and training, social protection, health, and external action.

The European Commission’s working document presents the specific objectives identified in the strategy and the actions envisaged to achieve them. Further information is available on the European Commission website.

Other European Parliament actions

Disability is a recurrent topic of questions posed by Members of the European Parliament to the European Commission.

The Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament, an informal grouping of MEPs, promotes disability policy in their work at the European Parliament as well as in the national contexts.

Further information

Information on disability is available in various publications by the European Parliament’s Think Tank, as well as in the European Parliament Research Service’s topical digest of December 2017. Further details concerning people with disabilities are available on the webpage of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and on the Your Europe website.

Do you have any questions on this issue or another EP-related concern? Please use our web form. You write, we answer.

About Ask EP

The Citizens' Enquiries Unit provides information on the activities, powers and organisation of the European Parliament. You ask, we answer.



  1. Pingback: What is the EU doing for people with disabilities? | - December 14, 2017

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