Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

EU disability card

There is currently no mutual recognition of disability status between the EU Member States. It can cause difficulties for persons with disabilities travelling in the EU.

The European Commission worked with persons with disabilities and their advocates to test the European Disability Card.

Eight countries already use the European Disability Card a voluntary system of mutual recognition of disability status and some associated benefits.

The card ensures equal access to benefits across borders for persons with disabilities, mainly in culture, leisure, sport and transport.

Based on this good experience, by the end of 2023, the European Commission will propose a European Disability Card that would apply to all EU countries.

The card will make it easier for persons with disabilities to get the proper support when they travel or move to another country in the European Union.

Pilot countries

A pilot of the card was launched in February 2016 in a group of eight EU countries:

The card does not change national eligibility criteria or rules. Member States retain their discretion to decide who is eligible to receive the Card, using the national definition of disability, and to determine the issuing procedure.

Assessment

In 2019-2020, the European Commission assessed the pilot project. The assessment study confirmed the EU added value of the card. It enables the mutual recognition of disability status across Member States, which would not have been feasible without EU level intervention. The study also concluded that the implementation costs per Cardholder are low.

The Card addresses the key needs of persons with disabilities in the sectors in scope, which is shown by the fact that there is a growing demand for it.

The assessment study was published online in 2021.

Follow-up

The EU’s Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 announced that the Commission will propose creating a European Disability Card by end of 2023 with a view to be recognised in all Member States. It will build on the experience of the ongoing EU Disability Card pilot project in eight Member States and upon the European parking card for persons with disabilities.

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