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European Parliament Written Declaration on Promoting Inclusive Education Systems in Europe

The European Network on Inclusive Education and Disability (incluD-ed) supported the Written Declaration 0029/2015: Promoting inclusive education systems in Europe that gathered from 7 September to 7 December 2015 (its lapse date) the signatures of 263 Members of the European Parliament (MEP). The initiative had been launched by MEP Rosa Estaràs, Vice-President of the Disability Intergroup, with the support of numerous co-authors from various countries and political groups. The text of the Written Declaration has been elaborated in close collaboration with incluD-ed network, taking into consideration incluD-ed’s Statement on promoting inclusive education systems in Europe (2014). The Written Declaration states that EU MS have already experienced positive results from implementing inclusive education systems and enlists its characteristics. Investment in inclusive education systems is needed order to achieve EU2020 and UNCRPD objectives.

  • An important initiative promoting the principles of the UNCRPD, especially Article 24 on Education

This Written Declaration refers to a crucial issue for people with disabilities throughout the EU: education as a right, and also as a pillar for participation in employment and for social inclusion. The Declaration seeks to promote the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially Article 24 on Education, which the EU has ratified, and to achieve the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 with the ultimate aim of creating a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe in line with EU2020.

The Declaration states that EU MS have already experienced positive results from implementing inclusive education systems. It enlists also characteristics of inclusive education systems such as the accessibility of universal curricula, the guarantee of qualified personalized support as well as the existence of mechanisms for the transition from special to mainstream schools, and from education to employment. Underlining that access and permanence in the education system enhance equal opportunities for all, social inclusion and employment opportunities, the Declaration calls to invest in education so to achieve EU2020 and UNCRPD objectives and to promote the collection of reliable data. Read here the full text of the Written Declaration 0029/2015 on disability: Promoting inclusive education systems in Europe.

  • incluD-ed collaborated in the elaboration of the Written Declaration

The idea to work together on a Written Declaration came up in 2013 when incluD-ed visited MEP Rosa Estaràs in her Brussels’ office at the EU Parliament on recommendation of Co-President of the Disability Intergroup MEP Ádám Kósa so to present its work on promoting inclusive education. This first encounter led to the organization of the Conference on Inclusive Education and Disability in Europe on 9 April 2014 at the European Parliament. During this important event with over 100 attendees, among them key stakeholders representing European institutions and organizations, the incluD-ed network shared incluD-ed’s  Statement on promoting inclusive education systems in Europe. The statement is a short and concise document that contains recommendations for EU institutions and national authorities to promote the development of inclusive education systems. That day, MEP Rosa Estaràs announced her intent to support the statement by transforming it into a Written Declaration within the European Parliament’s new legislative period 2014-2019.

After the EP elections in May 2014 and the reelection of MEP Rosa Estaràs, incluD-ed started to closely work with her office in order to turn the statement into a text of 200 words that would be presented to possible co-authors so that they align to the initiative. A Written Declaration needs at least the support of 10 MEPs from at least three political groups (who are the “co-authors”) to be submitted for signature to all their MEP colleagues. If, at the end of the three month period, it is signed by the majority of MEPs, the text is formally adopted by the European Parliament.

  • incluD-ed promoted the Declaration among all MEPs urging them to sign

The Written Declaration 0029/2015: Promoting inclusive education systems in Europe was supported by over 15 MEPs from seven political groups, that acted as co-authors (see list below). It has was launched on 7 September 2015 and was open for signature until 7 December. The incluD-ed Network Secretariat, all network founding partners and associated members promoted the Declaration by contacting their national MEPs asking them to sign it. The European Disability Forum supported the initiative as well by inviting all Disability Intergroup members to sign and by involving all European MS disability councils in the promotion of the Written Declaration.

  • Supported by 263 MEPs the Declaration contributed to raise awareness on inclusive education in Europe

incluD-ed is proud to inform that of the total of 751 MEPs in the legislative period 2014-2019, 263 MEPs supported and signed the Written Declaration on Promoting Inclusive Education Systems in Europe. Of all those Written Declarations launched on 7 September, the declaration on Promoting Inclusive Education Systems in Europe reached the second highest number of signatures. This is a clear success and a clear signal that more and more MEPs are engaged in promoting inclusive education at European but also at EU Member state level. Despite of not reaching the final objective of the adoption of the Declaration, we are convinced that the process involved a significant awareness raising action, spreading the importance of inclusive education in Europe. A strong dissemination effort was made by MEP Rosa Estaràs and her team, the co-authors, the incluD-ed network as well as the European Disability Forum.

We hope that in the future the European Parliament and European Institutions in general, together with national authorities, will continue to support the establishment of inclusive education systems in Europe.

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Co-authors of the Written Declaration:

Rosa Estaràs (PPE) – Spain, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea (ALDE) – Spain, Ádám Kósa (PPE) – Hungary, Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE) – Estonia, Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR) – Poland, Pablo Iglesias (GUE/NGL) – Spain, Sabine Verheyen (PPE) – Germany, Brando Benifei (S&D) – Italy, Victor Negrescu (S&D) – Romania, Eleonora Evi (EFDD) – Italy, Marek Plura (PPE) – Poland, Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto (S&D) – Spain, Sylvie Guillaume (S&D) – France, Barbara Matera (PPE) – Italy, Constance Le Grip (PPE) – France and Csaba Sógor (PPE) - Romania

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Signatories of the Written Declaration by country (signed/total MEPs of EU MS)

  • Austria:  5/18
  • Belgium: 8/21
  • Bulgaria: 5/17
  • Croatia: 5/11
  • Cyprus:  2/6
  • Czech Republic: 10/21
  • Denmark: 3/13
  • Estonia: 3/6
  • Finland: 4/13
  • France: 25/74
  • Germany: 10/100
  • Greece: 10/21
  • Hungary: 15/21
  • Ireland: 7/11
  • Italy: 27/73
  • Latvia: 3/8
  • Lithuania : 5/11
  • Luxembourg : 2/6
  • Malta : 5/6
  • Netherlands : 2/26
  • Poland : 14/51
  • Portugal : 9/21
  • Romania: 13/32
  • Slovakia: 4/13
  • Slovenia: 7/8
  • Spain: 61/74
  • Sweden: 3/20
  • United Kingdom: 15/73

Image description:

MEPs Ádám Kósa and Rosa Estaràs, and Miguel Ángel Cabra de Luna, Director for Social Relations, International Affairs and Strategic Planning of Fundación ONCE (representing incluD-ed) on April 9 2014, at the European Parliament, when incluD-ed handed in its Statement.