On December 7, a new level of commitment towards ensuring the fulfilment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was taken by the presidents of the European Institutions.
The three presidents (Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament; and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council) met with Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum (EDF), and a delegation representing people with a range of disabilities, including Donata Vivanti, Vice President of Autism-Europe, and her son Giulio Vivanti, who has Autism.
The main outcomes of the meeting were:
- High-level ‘State of the Union on Disability’ meetings (to be held every two years) between the three presidents of the European Institutions and the EDF. The main goal of these meetings is to make sure the European institutions are working together towards the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
- A ’European Parliament of persons with disabilities’ event to be held in 2012, to promote participation and representation of citizens with disabilities at the EU-level;
- EDF participation in other high-level meetings to ensure that European leaders maintain their commitment to the rights of people with disabilities.
The meeting aimed to ensure that Europe fulfils its obligations to the rights of people with disabilities in this time of financial crisis when people with disabilities are seeing their rights and access to vital services reduced.
The three presidents made the following commitments:
“The crisis shouldn’t prevent us from advancing in the implementation of the UN Convention. There won’t be any postponed legislation because of this crisis.”
– José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
“I am calling for the conclusion of the Optional Protocol [of the UNCRPD] by the European Council.”
– Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament
“When we discuss macroeconomic policy, we tend to forget concrete situation of persons with disabilities… A social way out of the crisis is possible.”
– Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council
The meeting was the result of advocacy work by the European Disability Forum, the umbrella organisation representing 80 million people with a range of disabilities in Europe. Autism-Europe is a member of the European Disability Forum and Autism-Europe Vice President, Donata Vivanti, is also Vice President of the European Disability Forum.