“The EU needs to get more people with disabilities into jobs and include provisions on disability in more of its other policies,” says Parliament in a resolution, passed last week, on the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020.
“Over 80 million people, i.e. around 16% of the EU’s total population, are living with disabilities. The Europe 2020 Strategy target of 75% of the population aged 20-64 in Europe 2020 in employment cannot be achieved unless it includes people with some form of disability”, said Àdám Kósa ahead of the plenary vote.
The employment rate for people with disabilities is only around 45 % in the EU and this is one of the groups hardest hit by the financial crisis, says the resolution, which was passed by a show of hands.
Austerity measures must not become a pretext for unjustified cuts in services for persons with disabilities or in projects for their social inclusion, MEPs say.
The European Parliament stresses the need to reach a swift agreement on the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. This was approved with 362 votes in favour, 273 against and 23 abstentions.
It also calls on the European Commission to reinforce anti-discrimination and accessibility provisions in the EU’s cohesion policy plans for 2014-2020, public procurement reform proposals and to present a legislative proposal for a European Accessibility Act with strong and binding measures at EU level to improve access to goods and services for people with disabilities.
MEPs call on EU Member States and the European Commission to recognise sign language as an official language in the Member States. The rapporteur himself is deaf and is assisted by an interpreter using sign language during meetings.
Finally, the resolution calls on Member States and the Commission to swiftly ratify and implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). So far, the Convention has been ratified by 17 Member States.