EBU warmly welcomes the announcement in the new Disability Rights Strategy of an EU-wide European Disability Card as one of the “flagship initiatives”. EBU also welcomes the commitment to present a proposal for the card by the end of 2023. Indeed, the Disability Card can play a very positive role in ensuring the effective free movement in the EU of persons with disabilities.
For the past few years, EBU has been following the experience of the ongoing European Disability Card pilot project in eight Member States and is fully aware of the benefits and limitations of the scheme based on feedback from its national member organisations in those eight Member States.
EBU calls on stakeholders at EU and national level, lawmakers as well as civil society organisations, to press for a scaling-up of the EU Disability Card initiative, so as to make it what citizens with disabilities already expect it to be: an EU-wide scheme of recognition of disability for equal access to related services.
More specifically, besides expanding its geographical scope, for the Card to have real added value, there should be homogeneity across the EU regarding the associated benefits. The benefits should be more attractive and cover a wider range of services related to daily life and tourism, such as transport and access to museums.
We also believe that it makes perfect sense to build, not only on the experience of the ongoing pilot project in eight Member States, but also on the European Disability Parking Card initiative, which is entirely relevant here.
Looking beyond punctual services and advantages for persons with disabilities, the Card’s should be an instrument of mutual recognition of the disability status. Indeed, we believe that the pragmatic way forward is not to try and harmonise the different disability assessment systems within the EU, but rather, following the overall approach in the area of social security, to coordinate between different legislations. In fact, the scope of the mutual recognition of the disability status needs to be extended, and it is important to clarify to what extent this should happen in order to make the Card a meaningful instrument to respond to the needs of citizens with disabilities.
EBU welcomes the Commission’s commitment to involve organisations of persons with disabilities in the Strategy’s implementation and it intends to play its full active part in that process. The Disability Platform will be instrumental in this respect and, as we write these lines, we look forward to the European Council conclusions of June 2021 to get a better view of what the framework for the dialogue is going to be.
By: Maria Kyriacou, EBU Secretary General