Cohesion policy and disability

06-03-2017

People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in society. While disability policy is primarily a Member State competence, the EU is committed to improving the living conditions of all people with disabilities and, in particular, to addressing the issue of institutionalised care. Cohesion policy can play a key role in this process. The cohesion policy framework sets out 11 thematic objectives closely aligned to the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, including promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination; this objective allows Member States to focus structural funds (ESIF) specifically on delivering support for people with disabilities. A new emphasis on partnerships involving disability organisations in ESIF programming as well as measures to prevent discrimination and ensure accessibility for people with disabilities through the use of special pre-conditions, ex ante conditionalities, aim to ensure that the views of disabled people are taken into account and their fundamental rights respected. Yet while operational programmes contain a broad range of measures to support people with disabilities, with the European Commission also reporting that Member States have respected the partnership principle during ESIF programming and fulfilled many of the ex ante conditionalities in place, the view of stakeholders has been more mixed. Pointing to issues such as excessive reporting requirements or a low level of knowledge among beneficiaries, they also have reservations about the quality of the participation of disability organisations in ESIF decision-making, raising questions as to the likely impact of the planned measures. Looking to the future, stakeholders emphasise the need to ensure the participation of disability organisations in all ESIF decision-making, and stress the importance of funding, potentially difficult in the context of increasing pressures on the EU budget.

People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable in society. While disability policy is primarily a Member State competence, the EU is committed to improving the living conditions of all people with disabilities and, in particular, to addressing the issue of institutionalised care. Cohesion policy can play a key role in this process. The cohesion policy framework sets out 11 thematic objectives closely aligned to the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, including promoting social inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination; this objective allows Member States to focus structural funds (ESIF) specifically on delivering support for people with disabilities. A new emphasis on partnerships involving disability organisations in ESIF programming as well as measures to prevent discrimination and ensure accessibility for people with disabilities through the use of special pre-conditions, ex ante conditionalities, aim to ensure that the views of disabled people are taken into account and their fundamental rights respected. Yet while operational programmes contain a broad range of measures to support people with disabilities, with the European Commission also reporting that Member States have respected the partnership principle during ESIF programming and fulfilled many of the ex ante conditionalities in place, the view of stakeholders has been more mixed. Pointing to issues such as excessive reporting requirements or a low level of knowledge among beneficiaries, they also have reservations about the quality of the participation of disability organisations in ESIF decision-making, raising questions as to the likely impact of the planned measures. Looking to the future, stakeholders emphasise the need to ensure the participation of disability organisations in all ESIF decision-making, and stress the importance of funding, potentially difficult in the context of increasing pressures on the EU budget.