On 15 November 2010 the European Commission adopted a new strategy to break down the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in society on an equal basis.
Most people take it for granted that they can hop on a bus to go shopping, visit friends, to see a play or a sports game. Surfing the Internet or enjoying a TV show are taken for granted, as is the right to vote in elections. But for the 80 million Europeans with a disability, there may be major obstacles that put these activities out of reach.
The strategy outlines how the EU and national governments can empower people with disabilities so they can enjoy their rights. Specific measures over the next decade range from the study on mutual recognition of national disability cards, the promotion of standardisation to a more targeted use of public procurement and state aid rules.
These measures will have substantial societal benefits, but should also produce a knock-on effect on Europe's economy. They could for example enhance the EU market for assisted devices and services, which already today has an estimated annual value of over €30 billion.
The main actions are:
The strategy includes a list of concrete actions and a timetable. The Commission will regularly report on the strategy’s achievements and progress complying with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which it has signed.