On March 14, 2019 representatives of Disability Ministries from 25 European Union (EU) Members States, as well as of the Commission and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, signed a joint declaration to further support the autonomy and independence of persons with disabilities across the EU. The need to enhance cooperation on autism was also on the agenda of the meeting.
Autism-Europe (AE) welcomes this commitment to strengthen cooperation on disability at EU-level, and the fact that autism was also a focus of this event. We hope it will be reflected in the future EU Disability Strategy post 2020, currently under consultation.
© Picture by Judith Litvine- Ministère français de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères
On the occasion of an informal meeting of European Ministers responsible for disabilities issues organised by French Secretary of State for disability, Sophie Cluzel, and the European Minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, in cooperation with the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Commission, a joint declaration was signed to foster action to further support the autonomy and independence of persons with disabilities across the EU.
Signatories reaffirmed their determination to continue to remove the barriers that 80 million persons with disabilities across the EU face in their daily lives in order to enable them to access all their rights, work, education, health and social protection, and to be fully included in society. The declaration also acknowledges the need “to provide persons with complex communications requirements with appropriate support, with a view to develop and convey their directions”.
They also stressed that, in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, the measures necessary to take into account persons with disabilities should be further integrated into the future strategic framework of the EU. This come at a time when the European disability strategy post 2020 is under consultation. The conference was also an opportunity to take stock of the latest developments regarding the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities at the EU-level, notably the European Accessibility Act, which final version has been recently approved by the European Parliament.
A focus on autism
This conference was also the opportunity to express a commitment to strengthen cooperation in research, in particular in the field of autism and neurodevelopment disorders. As part of its national strategy adopted in April 2018, France proposes to implement larger-scale research programmes in the framework of its Autism National Strategy 2018- 2022.
Such programmes can build on the results of the ASDEU programme, in which Autism-Europe (AE) was responsible for formulating policy recommendations to European decisions-makers in the field of health and social inclusion. The ASDEU coordinator, Manuel Posada was invited to present the key results of the research conducted between 2015 and 2019, and its main recommendations.
AE welcomes this first informal EU meeting on disability, and encourages representatives of member states to deliver on their commitment to strengthen social Europe and do more to foster inclusion and full participation of disabled people across Europe. AE is currently campaigning for “A New Dynamic for Autism” to pave the way for more action to respond to the daily challenges autistic people face across their lifespan in Europe.
In view of the European Parliament elections, AE has released a manifesto calling on future MEPs, but also other relevant stakeholders – such as the European Commission, the European Council and Member States:
- To promote the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) through an ambitious EU Disability Strategy post-2020 leaving no one behind;
- To take action regarding the 2015 European Parliament Written Declaration on Autism calling for a European strategy
To this end, AE is asking candidates to sign a pledge for autism and commit to support autistic people and their families in Europe, while they are in office (if elected to the European Parliament).
The 12th International congress of Autism-Europe to be held in France in September 2019, will also be an opportunity to foster cooperation in research at the EU-level.