Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

European disability strategy 2010-2020

The European disability strategy 2010-2020 aims to promote a barrier-free Europe and at empower people with disabilities so that they can enjoy their rights and participate fully in society and economy.

It describes a set of objectives and actions for the implementation of the disability policy (and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) at the EU level. It also supports Member States in their implementation of the Convention. 

As the strategy draws to a close, the Commission has begun the process of evaluating it in 2019.

Priority areas

The European disability strategy 2010-2020 focuses on actions in eight priority areas:

  1. accessibility: make goods and services accessible to people with disabilities and promote the market of assistive devices
  2. participation: ensure that people with disabilities enjoy all benefits of EU citizenship, remove barriers to equal participation in public life and leisure activities, promote the provision of quality community-based services
  3. equality: combat discrimination based on disability and promote equal opportunities.
  4. employment: increase the participation of people with disabilities in the labour market, where they are currently under-represented
  5. education and training: promote inclusive education and lifelong learning for students and pupils with disabilities. Equal access to quality education and lifelong learning enable disabled people to participate fully in society and improve their quality of life
  6. social protection: promote decent living conditions, combat poverty and social exclusion
  7. health: promote equal access to health services and related facilities
  8. external action: promote the rights of people with disabilities in the EU enlargement and international development programmes


The Disability Strategy has led to initiatives such as

  • the European Accessibility Act, which sets accessibility requirements for products and services and the Regulations on the Rights of Passengers with reduced mobility
  • the Directive on web accessibility, which will make public websites accessible to all. They are big steps towards better accessibility
  • the EU disability card project, which makes it easier for people with disabilities to travel across these Member States. It has been piloted in 8 Member States and is now under evaluation before continuation
  • provisions in the Erasmus+ programme to allow better mobility for students with disabilities
  • the cross-border healthcare directive
  • educational initiatives for disabled people, including the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education as well as a specific study group on disability and lifelong learning
  • external action activites, such as funding for at least more than 400 disability-specific projects in over 100 countries, mainly in partnership with civil society, as well as in support of partner governments’ efforts to implement and monitor the UNCRPD
  • an accompanying action plan containing 100 actions in all of the eight areas covered by the strategy

Progress report on the European disability strategy 2010-2020

A progress report on the EU's achievements in the strategy's first five years was published in February 2017. It also lists EU legislative acts related to the UNCRPD and describes its implementation by the EU, including within EU institutions, and takes the UN's concluding observations on the EU's report on the implementation of the UNCRPD into account.

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