The 2019 Access City Award goes to the city of Breda, in the Netherlands, for continuously making improvements to make life easier for people with disabilities.
The award was handed out this morning at the Access City Award Ceremony, taking place in Brussels. Breda is a source of inspiration for cities in Europe and beyond, which encounter similar challenges.
At the award ceremony, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen said: "Too often, people with disabilities feel isolated because they cannot access public spaces or transport. In Breda, public places such as parks and stores are accessible to everyone. Digital technologies ensure that all citizens can get around using public transport. And Breda's investments pay off. Tourism is thriving thanks to the city’s commitment to inclusion. In the near future, the European Accessibility Act will complement Breda's efforts by setting European accessibility standards for key products and services. Our combined efforts at local and European level are a game changer for the more than 80 million Europeans with disabilities.”
For the 2019 Access City Award, the European Commission received 52 applications. The city of Évreux in France and the city of Gdynia in Poland are the second and third place winners. The jury praised Évreux for its particular focus on invisible disabilities and Gdynia for its initiatives to include people with intellectual disabilities. Finally, Kaposvár in Hungary and Vigo in Spain both received a special mention. Kaposvár was recognised for its continued improvements and Vigo for its innovative architecture in a challenging topography.
The Access City Award, organised by the European Commission together with the European Disability Forum, is one of the actions of the EU Disability Strategy 2010-2020 to create a barrier-free Europe. It recognises those cities that are leading lights in overcoming obstacles across Europe today.
The Award is given to the city that has clearly and sustainably improved accessibility in fundamental aspects of city living, and that has concrete plans for further improvements. The purpose of the Award is to inspire other cities, which may face similar challenges, and to promote good practices across Europe.