11 March 2013 – On 7 March, the Conference of Presidents agreed to place an oral question on the impact of austerity on the living conditions of disabled people on the agenda of the European Parliament.
The question debated and adopted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee last month, is based on a proposal by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) and cooperating European organisations. ENIL welcomes the debate, scheduled to take place in the plenary meeting on 12 March, but notes with regret that the Conference of Presidents missed this opportunity to vote on a Resolution on the same issue. We see this as a clear sign of the lack of understanding by MEPs for the precarious situation of disabled EU citizens brought on by the cuts in public spending.
The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) launched the Proposal for a Parliament Resolution in September 2009, when a range of cuts to services and benefits for disabled people was first announced in many Member States. Today, disabled people are feeling the effects of these cuts. Their support to live independently, in the community, is being reduced or taken away and the threat of institutionalisation, or re-institutionalisation, is a reality for many.
An increasing number of voices in Europe and internationally, including DPAC, are pointing to the disproportionate effect of the financial crisis on disabled people, and warning about the long-term consequences for the entire society. ENIL and DPAC have been working with a number of European and national organisations over the past 18 months, as well as with some MEPs, in order to ensure an adequate response of the European Parliament and the European Commission to austerity measures imposed by the Member States.
The oral question to the European Commission, which will be debated on Tues 12th March, is an opportunity to get the worsening situation of disabled people in the EU on the political agenda. It is the first step towards a Resolution of the European Parliament, which can ensure that the Member States take concrete steps to reconsider and reverse the measures which are negatively affecting the rights of disabled people. ENIL and DPAC believe that a Parliament Resolution will send a strong signal to the Member States, and will continue campaigning for its adoption in the coming months.
To support ENIL’s Resolution on the effect of cuts in public spending, please write to your MEP today! Together, we can make MEPs from all political groups aware of the impact of austerity measures on the lives of people they are representing and ask them to take immediate action. Thank you for your support!
To follow the debate in the European Parliament on 12 March, please use this link, select ‘Live’ and ‘Current debate’, and then click on the desired language. An estimated starting time will be shown on the website at 16:00 GMT, with the debate likely to take place in the evening.
Text of the oral question
|Subject: The impact of austerity on the living conditions of people with disabilities|
|In the European Union, evidence shows that persons with disabilities, including people with intellectual disabilities, are to a disproportionate degree affected by cuts in public spending and by a resulting loss of support measures – such as personal assistance and direct payments – that are essential if they are to live independently in the community
.1. Austerity policies will lead to an increase in the number of people living in long-term institutional care in many Member States, and to the further social exclusion of persons with disabilities. What steps does the Commission intend to take to remedy and reverse this trend?
2. It is of paramount importance for people with disabilities that austerity measures do not affect primary and daytime care, which, on the contrary, should be expanded further. At the same time, the provision of home care should be enhanced. What concrete steps does the Commission plan to take to encourage the organisation of these community-based services?
3. The EU’s commitments to prevent discrimination when it comes to access to employment and occupation, and to promote the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, are not being met. There is still poor awareness of the enormous potential for improving the integration of disabled people into the labour market, which would also contribute to the employment target set in the framework of EU 2020. What recommendations or good practices can guide the Member States in their efforts to promote the participation of people with disabilities in the society, and in the labour market, and to promote a more sustainable society?
4. Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities(1) and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 stress the need for further action in several areas. What steps does the Commission intend to take to implement the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and to ensure that the EU fulfils its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
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 The Conference of Presidents consists of the President of Parliament and the chairmen of the political groups (who may arrange to be represented by a member of their group)
 For more information, please see Hauben, H. et al. (2012) Assessing the impact of European governments’ austerity plans on the rights of people with disabilities – European report. European Foundation Centre. Available at: http://www.enil.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Austerity-European-Report_FINAL.pdf
 AGE Platform Europe, Autism Europe, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), European Disability Forum (EDF), Inclusion Europe, European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Mental Health Europe (MHE), European Foundation Centre (EFC), Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), UK and Onafhankelijk Leven, Belgium