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What is the EU doing to implement the UN CRPD? The service providers perspective

Image of the European Commission headquarter in Brussels. The Berlaymont buildingEASPD has sent a report to the United Nations (UN) compiling the views of service providers for persons with disabilities on the progress made towards ensuring compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the European Union (EU). The report stresses the European Disability Strategy’s lack of recognition of the role played by support services, whilst calling on the EU to adopt a “social investment approach”, overhauling its perception of services as a “cost”.


The main objective of EASPD’s report is to assess the role the EU has taken in regard to its obligations arising from the conclusion of the UN CRPD on December 2010, focusing on articles that are specifically relevant for the support services sector. The report first stresses the recent, important shift experienced by the sector throughout Europe, which witnessed a refocusing towards the implementation of person-centred and individualised services in line with the UN Convention. The report nonetheless indicates there is still much to be achieved if the sector is to fully accomplish this culture change. Responding to this need represents the main challenge for the service provision of tomorrow. The report highlights how the latest austerity measures and budgetary cuts to public expenditure have impacted the quality of service provision in most European countries, resulting in a tendency towards re-institutionalisation, lack of access to the labour market and to mainstream education.

 

Social support services should be considered as an instrument for the UN CRPD’s implementation. The European Disability Strategy (EDS), currently the EU’s main tool for implementation of the Convention at European level, fails to convey this message, as it neglects to structurally integrate the role of individualised support services. Consequently, EU policy lacks a service provision perspective. There is insufficient reference within the EDS to persons with intellectual and mental disabilities in particular, despite complex and high support needs associated with their service requirements. This is a missed opportunity and contributes to the detriment of these persons. EASPD recommends the EU to structurally involve persons with all types of disabilities and their support services in policy development. The institutions must fully integrate the Strategy into the European Semester, which is, at present, the main EU tool influencing national social policies.

 

EASPD assessment of UN CRPD articles

EASPD’s report analyses in particular the implementation of UN CRPD articles directly concerning service provision. EASPD recommends to the EU:

  • Article 4 [General Obligations]. To create genuinely inclusive, community based services, through an agenda for change and innovation focusing on support services.
  • Article 9 [Accessibility]. To have a comprehensive understanding of the concept of accessibility. This should also include human support and not only access to goods and services, and must apply to persons with all types of disabilities and needs.
  • Article 19 [Living independently and being included in the community]. To strengthen its monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to put an end to the misuse of the Structural and Investment Funds and to deliver a specific Communication on the transition from segregating-institutional settings to community-based ones.
  • Article 24 [Education]. To promote training and programmes to help staff to succeed in achieving inclusive education, encourage Member States to better support the transition from segregated education systems to mainstream schools and strengthen the mandate of the European Agency for Special Needs.
  • Article 25 [Health]. Promote training opportunities for health care professionals across countries according to a human rights framework.
  • Article 27 [Work and Employment].  To strengthen cross-sectorial cooperation, including for example trade unions and employers, and support individualised services. These actions could contribute to opening up the labour market to persons with disabilities.
  • Article 31 [Statistics and data collection]. To support research investigating the correlation between quality of life and quality of services. The absence of accurate statistics and data makes it difficult to plan policies according to real-life needs.
  • Article 33 [National implementation and monitoring]. To comply with the Paris Principles and ensure a pluralistic representation of civil society organisations in the EU independent monitoring mechanism called the “EU framework”. 
 

The United Nations evaluation process

Since the CRPD’s entry into force within the European Union [2010], this is the first time that EU policies will be assessed by the United Nations (UN). This process will hereafter occur periodically at least every 4 years. As a first step in the EU report’s evaluation, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will adopt a “List of Issues” in April 2015. In August 2015 the EU-UN dialogue will be concluded with “Recommendations” from the UN to the EU on how to further implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

Related documents and links

Note to editors

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organization, established in 1996, and currently representing over 10.000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.

 

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