Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Union of equality: Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030

In March 2021, the European Commission adopted the Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030. With this ten-year strategy, the European Commission wants to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in Europe and around the world.

The Strategy builds on the results of the previous European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which paved the way to a barrier-free Europe and to empower persons with disabilities so they can enjoy their rights and participate fully in society and economy. Despite the progress made in the past decade, persons with disabilities still face considerable barriers and have a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion.

The objective of this Strategy is to progress towards ensuring that all persons with disabilities in Europe, regardless of their sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, age or sexual orientation

  • enjoy their human rights
  • have equal opportunities, equal access to participate in society and economy
  • are able to decide where, how and with whom they live
  • move freely in the EU regardless of their support needs
  • and no longer experience discrimination

This new and strengthened Strategy takes account of the diversity of disability comprising long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments (in line with Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), which are often invisible.

Addressing the risks of multiple disadvantage faced by women, children, older persons, refugees with disabilities, and those with socioeconomic difficulties, it promotes an intersectional perspective in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new strategy therefore contains an ambitious set of actions and flagship initiatives in various domains and has numerous priorities, such as

  • accessibility: being able to move and reside freely but also to participate in the democratic process
  • having a decent quality of life and to live independently as it focuses notably on the de-institutionalisation process, social protection and non-discrimination at work
  • equal participation as it aims to effectively protect persons with disabilities from any form of discrimination and violence, to ensure equal opportunities in and access to justice, education, culture, sport and tourism, but also equal access to all health services
  • the role of the EU to lead by example
  • the EU’s intention to deliver on that strategy
  • promoting the rights of persons with disabilities globally

Flagship initiatives

  1. AccessibleEU: a knowledge base providing information and good practices on accessibility across sectors (by end 2022)
  2. European Disability Card: 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. (by end 2023)
  3. Guidance recommending improvements on independent living and inclusion in the community. This will contribute to enabling persons with disabilities to live in accessible, supported housing in the community or to continue living at home (2023).
  4. A framework for social services of excellence for persons with disabilities (2024)
  5. A package to improve labour market outcomes of persons with disabilities (to be launched second half of 2022)
  6. Disability Platform: The Disability Platform brings together national authorities responsible for implementation of the Convention, organisations of persons with disabilities and the Commission. It supports the implementation of the strategy and enhances cooperation and exchange on implementing the Convention.
  7. Renewed HR strategy for the European Commission, including actions to promote diversity and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Delivering the Strategy: working closely together with EU countries

The Commission will support Member States in shaping their national strategies and action plans to further implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the EU legislation in the field.

The European Commission calls on Member States to contribute to this new and reinforced Strategy as the framework for EU actions and for the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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