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What has the European Disability Strategy achieved so far?

02/02/2017 Three elderly people: one with a walking cane and two in a wheel chair

Today the European Commission presents its Progress Report on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020. The Strategy is the main instrument to support the EU's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

There has been progress in all the eight areas of the Strategy:

  • accessibility
  • participation
  • equality
  • employment
  • education and training
  • social protection
  • health
  • external action

thanks to EU action.

Initiatives such as the Directive on Web Accessibility, which will make public websites accessible to all, and the proposal for a European Accessibility Act are big steps towards better accessibility. The EU Disability Card project is being piloted in 8 Member States and will make it easier for people with disabilities to travel across these Member States. Provisions in the Erasmus+ programme allow better mobility for students with disabilities and the increased attention paid to disability in EU external action policies was recognised by the UN Committee in its recommendations to the EU. People with disabilities will also benefit from the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

Background

As the EU population is getting older, the number of Europeans with disabilities is rising significantly. They remain consistently disadvantaged in terms of employment, education and social inclusion, as discrimination is still a major obstacle.

At only 48.7%, the employment rate of people with disabilities remains much lower than the one of people without disabilities (72.5%). 30% of people with a disability are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, compared to 21.5% of people without disabilities. People with disabilities across the EU have also been hit hard by the economic crisis.

In addition, many EU citizens are still not fully aware of the rights of persons with disabilities, including sometimes persons with disabilities themselves.