Disability rights: Parliament calls for a paradigm shift 

Press Releases 
  • MEPs ask for better use of EU funds, no European money for segregated settings 
  • European reforms needed to enhance social participation, accessible communities 
  • Call for European legislation on inclusive workplaces 

MEPs have put forward their suggestions to defend the rights of persons with disabilities and tackle discrimination.

In the report adopted on Tuesday (526 votes in favour, 10 against, and 83 abstentions), MEPs propose measures that would reinvent the social, legal, and political framework for disability rights, and help eradicate stereotypes, ableism and misconceptions.

They call for a system that promotes social participation, i.e. one based on accessible communities that provide the services and care needed, in line with the European Disability Strategy. MEPs also demand that the benefits of the upcoming EU Disability Card should be expanded and that its introduction should be an obligation for member states, as should measures for inclusive mainstream educational settings and healthcare.

Reforming and expanding EU rules

Access to the labour market is essential, MEPs say; the Commission should develop a European legal framework for inclusive enterprises, and start the revision of the Employment Equality Directive. They also ask the Commission to update the EU Equal Treatment Directive proposal, which has been blocked by the member states since 2008.

Parliament welcomes the upcoming audit by the European Court of Auditors on how EU funds help ensure equality and urges the Commission to suspend or recover payments if fundamental rights are breached, stressing that no segregated setting should receive EU funds.

Complex discrimination and violence patterns

Compounding disability-based discrimination based on other personal traits (e.g. gender, race, age, religion, or sexual orientation) is a key concern for MEPs. 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.

MEPs also assert that persons with disabilities must be able to vote and stand in elections on an equal basis. In the case of European citizens living in another EU country, decisions to deprive them of their legal capacity taken in their member state of origin should not necessarily make them ineligible to stand and vote where they live, MEPs stress.


The rapporteur, Anne-Sophie Pelletier (The Left, FR) commented: “For far too long, the difficulties of persons with disabilities have been ignored in the EU. They are citizens whose rights are violated on a daily basis. It is high time that this changed, and I am delighted that the debate on this report can signal progress towards real equality for all.”