Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 04/03/2015

The Commission renews its commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities

The first high-level meeting of the EU's monitoring Framework for the UN Disability Convention will be held today and will see the Commission renew its commitment to promoting, protecting and monitoring the rights of persons with disabilities.

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The European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, the European Ombudsman, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Disability Forum will meet in Brussels.

The EU has been party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the UN Convention) since January 2011. As of February 2015, 25 EU Member States have also ratified the UN Convention. Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands have signed, but not yet ratified.

This means that the EU as well as those Member States that are parties to the UN Convention are committed to upholding and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities as enshrined in the UN Convention, within their respective powers. Restoring social fairness and creating a Union where discrimination has no place is a priority for the European Commission.

One in six people in the European Union – around 80 million – have a disability that ranges from mild to severe. Over one third of people aged over 75 have disabilities that restrict them to some extent. These numbers are set to rise as the EU population grows progressively older. Most of these people are all too often prevented from fully participating in society and the economy because of physical or other barriers, as well as discrimination.

The UN Convention

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the first human rights treaty to which the EU has become a party (IP/11/4).

It sets minimum standards for a range of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights for people with disabilities. This year, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, made up of independent experts, will review for the first time how the EU has been implementing its obligations. In June 2014, the Commission published the first report on how the EU is giving effect to its obligations under this UN Convention (MEMO/14/396).

As a party to the UN Convention, the EU is required to have a mechanism responsible for promoting, protecting and monitoring its implementation, by raising awareness of the rights guaranteed by the UN Convention, scrutinising legislation for compliance, examining complaints and assessing progress in the enjoyment of these rights.

National monitoring mechanisms carry the main responsibility for promoting, protecting and monitoring the UN Convention in the EU Member States. The EU Framework is complementary to those mechanisms.

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