In 2003, during the European Year of Disability, the Disability Movement tried to get the European Parliament to adopt a Disability Rights Directive, but failed. Now in 2007 (the European Year of Equality), the European Disability Forum has launched a new campaign for a Disability Directive.
What has changed? In 2003 the European Commission argued that they had their work cut out in implementing the European Equal Employment Directive. A Directive that would force the UK Government to strengthen Equal Employment legislation and force all employers not to discriminate in recruitment, promotion or training on grounds of disability, age, sexuality or religion.
In December 2006 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which contains comprehensive measures to develop full equality for disabled people in all areas of life. This is already adopted in certain aspects by the European Commission and 22 of the 27 EU members, but with no common Convention how can the EU claim to have a unified market with social measures?
The European Union has between 50 and 100 million disabled citizens depending on how they are counted. At present there is no unified definition or method of enumerating and a unified directive would ensure such agreements. Already the EU has demonstrated the benefit of a European-wide legislation for disabled people in the UK, through such things as The Equal Employment Directive – extending the coverage of the DDA, and The Air Passenger Directive – ensuring equal treatment of disabled people by airlines across Europe. Trans-European train, bus, coach and ferries directives are also in the pipeline. None of these things are covered by the Disability Discrimination Act.
The UN Convention covers all aspects of life, including the development of an inclusive education system, the need to get more disabled people into work, women and children’s rights and the right to supported decision making for all rather than guardianship. However, disabled people and their allies will have to struggle to get these things into British Law, but a really effective way is to get them into a legally binding European Directive.
Support the campaign, sign the petition and make a change.
The UK is lagging far behind other countries in collecting signatures. So far over 250,000 have been collected across Europe, but only 5,000 in the UK so please do all you can to get signatures online at www.1Million4disability.eu
Thanks to Richard Rieser, UK Council for Disability Rights in Europe representative on the European Disability Forum, for this information.