The consultation hearing offered an opportunity for social partners to engage with the European Commission on the European Disability Strategy, and to discuss upcoming developments.
On 4 November a consultation hearing with social partners took place in preparation of the Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030. The meeting was chaired by Neil Kerr, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Dalli.
Joost Korte, Director-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, provided an overview of the evaluation of the current strategy and some considerations for the preparation of the forthcoming strategy. He mentioned the lower employment rate of people with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. Other indicators also show that people with disabilities are lagging behind, in terms of education and poverty risk, and gaps are still very important. In this context, social partners can act at many levels and provide input in particular in the area of employment.
Katarina Ivankovic-Knezevic, Director for Social Affairs at DG EMPL, emphasised the importance of education as well as of reskilling and upskilling. Limited access to skills are often a barrier for people with disabilities. Social partners welcomed the social dialogue around this topic and mentioned, amongst other aspects, the need to consider the current social and economic context, including the COVID-19 crisis, the social economy, and the objective to include people with disabilities into the labour market.
The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 was issued in 2010 with the aim to empower persons with disabilities so that they can fully enjoy their rights and benefit from participating in society and in the European economy. The strategy sets out a list of objectives and a list of actions to be implemented to achieve these objectives.
The strategy covers eight areas of action:
- education and Training
- social protection
- health and external action
The strategy is also the main instrument for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ('UNCRPD' or 'the Convention') in the EU.
The forthcoming Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 is expected for the second quarter of 2021 and will contribute to build a Union of equality.