The report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been approved today by the European Parliament. This is the first and only international human rights treaty ratified by the Eu as a regional integration organization.
With today’s vote, the European Parliaments asked the European Commission to fully implement the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities. Without a full implementation, todays’ step forward will remain just a written non - binding document.
This long -awaited vote marks an historical day for 80 million people in the EU who are affected by a disability to some degree. Their challenges, struggles and expectations have been recognized by a large political majority. The Disability Intergroup at the European Parliament and several civil society organizations across Europe contributed to draw up the report from the very beginning of the process.
The rapporteur MEP HelgaStevens, who is the first female deaf MEP, expressed her satisfaction for the result: «The large majority shows that the rights of persons with disabilities are to be taken seriously and are not merely a minority issue». Stevens asks that disabled people in Europe are not treated as second class citizens. «They must have the same rights to work and live in the EU as non-disabled citizens. The EU institutions must lead by example. Disabled staff in the institutions must get support to have equal access to employment. Likewise, disabled citizens should get equal access to public information and events in the Parliament and other institutions».
We need a joint effort to remove all the obstacles that are preventing people with disabilities from fully enjoying their rights, as well as preventing discrimination, and ensuring their active participation in our society. The UN convention constitutes a veritable cultural revolution; we have to implement it fully and quickly, with the aim of creating a Europe without barriers and an internal market that serves people. People with disabilities, who are approximately 15% of the European population, cannot wait any longer.
According to Stevens, the EU has always been a strong supporter of the rights of disabled people, but more efforts have to be made to fully include them. «I will do my utmost to ensure this remains not only a piece of paper but can have a real impact on persons with disabilities, here at the European institutions and across Europe» she assured.
Cover photo by Gio Pasori