The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Permanent Study Group on Disability Rights organised a public hearing on December 13, on “Reviewing the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Regulations in favour of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations”.
Representatives of the EESC, the European Commission and the Committee of Regions, as well as different DPOs, gathered to look into the results achieved so far with regard to the inclusion of persons with disabilities with the help of the ESIF.
In the first part of the hearing representatives of the EU institutions analysed what has been achieved so far, with a focus on the anti-discrimination and partnership principle, while in the second part participants discussed good practices presented by organisations representing persons with disabilities.
Committee of the Regions Rapporteur on the European Pilar of Social Rights, Mauro D’Attis, stated: When discussing the inclusion of persons with disabilities, the issue is not medical but social. Without appropriate allocations of EU funds for local and regional authorities, the Social Pillar will remain political rhetoric.
European Disability Forum Director, Catherine Naughton underlined: “Capacity building of organisations of persons with disabilities is a crucial feature of the ESIF”.
President of ESN International, João Pinto pointed out: “Only 0.15% of Erasmus+ students are persons with disabilities”.
Irina Papancheva, EU Policy and Advocacy Adviser at Lumos, presented key findings of the report “Community Living for Europe: Structural Funds Watch”. This independent initiative tracks how the clear commitment of the European Structural and Investment Funds to support community living for persons with disabilities, children and older persons is being achieved.
The European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the EU’s main funding programmes for supporting growth and jobs across the EU. Some €450 billion of ESIF are available for the Member States and their regions in the period 2014-2020. Cohesion, rural development and maritime policies combined are the biggest area of EU investment for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides that, in order to strengthen its economic, social and territorial cohesion, the Union is to aim at reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions or islands, and that particular attention is to be paid to rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition, and regions which suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps.