The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the first international, legally binding instrument setting minimum standards for rights of people with disabilities, and the first human rights convention to which the EU has become a party.
The UN Convention says that persons with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. It also tells how countries can protect these rights.
For the EU, the convention entered into force on 22 January 2011. All EU Member States have signed and ratified the convention. 22 EU countries have also signed and ratified its optional protocol in January 2019.
This means that every EU country must protect the rights of persons with disabilities. 22 EU countries have also signed and ratified its optional protocol, which establishes an individual complaints mechanism for the Convention. The European Commission coordinates the implementation of the Convention at EU level.
Reporting to the United Nations
Parties to the convention need to periodically inform the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities about the measures taken to implement it. The Commission has provided the following:
- first report to the UN on the EU's application of the Convention (June 2014)
- response to UN review of the EU's implementation of the convention (June 2015)
- dialogue with the UN in Geneva and recommendations for follow-up. A summary of the dialogue in an easy-to-read version prepared by Inclusion Europe is available. (August 2015)
- a response to the UN Committee's more urgent recommendations, and follow-up on the adoption of the European accessibility act, the Commission's withdrawal from the EU Framework, and the update of the list of EU legal acts related to disability (January 2017).
The EU is submitting its next periodic report to the UN one year after adoption of the list of issues by the UNCRPD Committee in April 2022. EU Member States must also submit individual implementation reports to the UN for matters falling under their competence.
High level group on disability and work forum
The Commission regularly discusses the implementation of the convention at EU and Member State level in a high level group on disability with
- the European Commission
- experts from EU Member States
- several EU-level NGOs, including disabled people’s organisations (DPOs)
In addition, an annual work forum brings together those responsible for implementing and monitoring the Convention, civil society bodies, and DPOs from the EU and its Member States.
EU framework on the implementation of the UNCRPD
The EU is required to have a basis to promote, protect and implement the UNCRPD in matters falling under the EU's competence.
The members of the EU Framework are:
- European Parliament
- European Ombudsman
- EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
- European Disability Forum (EDF)
The European Commission was a member of the Framework until late 2015. The Commission withdrew following the recommendation of the Committee on the rights of persons with disabilities. The European Commission continues to coordinate the implementation of the UNCRPD at EU level.