The draft report of the Committee on Civil Liberties takes stock of the current state of the rights of persons with disabilities in the EU and proposes ways forward.

In the text endorsed on Thursday (44 votes in favour, one against, and five abstentions), MEPs reaffirm that the right of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included (Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) can only be fully guaranteed through policies and legislation offering alternatives to institutions. They call for a shift to a system enabling social participation, where services and care are provided in an accessible community, as per the European Disability Strategy. Stereotypes, ableism and misconceptions must be eradicated. Access to the labour market is essential in this regard, and the Commission should develop a European legal framework for inclusive enterprises, with the aim to create permanent employment for people with disabilities.

Intersectional discrimination, deprivation of legal capacity

Discrimination also based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, migration status or socioeconomic background is a key concern reflected in the draft report. Special reference is made to gender-based violence, as well as to denial of access to sexual and reproductive health facilities, to denial of informed consent regarding the use of contraceptives, and to forced sterilisation.

On psychosocial disabilities, MEPs call for dedicated programmes that will allow for a shift from deprivation of legal capacity towards supported decision-making. They also ask for electoral legislation to ensure persons with disabilities can vote and stand as candidates on an equal basis. In the case of European citizens living in another EU country, decisions on deprivation of legal capacity taken by their member state of origin should not necessarily make them ineligible where they live, MEPs stress.

Better rules, stronger cooperation, and improved used of funds

The draft report asks the Commission to update the proposed EU Equal Treatment Directive. MEPs are looking forward to the audit announced by the European Court of Auditors, while calling on the Commission to aim to stop financing segregated settings. To enhance policy cohesion and improve mobility, the text calls for mutual definitions of key terms such as ‘community-based living’. There should also be better collection, comparability, disaggregation, and shared use of data. Other proposals relate to:

  • an implementation plan for disability-inclusive disaster risk management at EU level;
  • the need to extend the benefits of the EU Disability Card;
  • measures for mainstream inclusive educational settings and healthcare; and
  • promoting inclusive employment.

“This report on persons with disabilities shows a strong position of the Civil Liberties committee towards equal rights for persons with disabilities, which I am confident will be reflected in the upcoming plenary vote. Even today in the European Union, too many persons are discriminated against because of their disability. I am delighted with the negotiations, which have shown that this subject has no political colour and that we are all actors in the society that we are building together,” commented the rapporteur, Anne-Sophie Pelletier (The Left, FR).

The report is provisionally set to be tabled at the December 2022 plenary session.