The EU is developing a system of mutual recognition based on an EU Disability Card. Currently, there is no mutual recognition of disability status between EU Member States: this makes things difficult for persons with disabilities travelling to other EU countries. A pilot has been launched in February 2016, which will kick-start the Card in a first group of eight EU countries, including Finland. (European Commission)
In Finland, KVPS – member of EASPD – was leading the commission funded project in 2016-2018 and is currently responsible for coordinating the system and development activities in Finland. During the project in Finland KVPS:
- coordinated the creation of the system of issuing the card together with the Social Insurance Institution of Finland
- supported the creation of the eligibility criteria for the disability card in Finland with persons with disabilities, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, The National Institute for Health and Welfare and the NGO´s
- engaged the service providers in the areas of transport, tourism, culture and leisure to provide good and accessible services for persons with disabilities
- established the national package of benefits together with the service providers
The project and development activities were not easy – it took some time to involve all strategic partners and to find the way to take everyone´s views into account and to sometimes compromise. We learned during the process that the EU Disability Card is all about collaboration. KVPS played a significant role in bringing people together and finding solutions to the tricky questions: Who is the card for? How the card is issued? What is the added value of the card?
As a result, the issuing of the Card started in Finland in June 2018 and during the first 6 months around 5000 persons have applied for the card. We have around 150 committed partners, for example the national railway company, a nation-wide cinema company, museums, theatres, local bus companies and many more. The EU Disability Card gives a tool to persons with disabilities to communicate their wishes and needs when using services and being active members of the society. This way service providers in Finland and in other countries are also able to provide good customer experiences.
Does this sound interesting? We are happy to share our knowledge to EASPD members and other interested parties. Currently the European Commission is doing an evaluation of the pilot projects. Hopefully a new call for proposals will be announced soon and other countries will be able to implement the card. In Finland it has been a long, but successful process. It provided new roles and collaboration networks for KVPS and it has strengthened the collaboration between NGO´s and public authorities. Most importantly it has promoted the rights of persons with disabilities and it has given new opportunities for persons with disabilities to be active citizens.
Partnership Director at KVPS – The Service Foundation for People with an Intellectual Disability
www.kvps.fi (KVPS Website)
Members' voice is an open space for EASPD member organisations to publish their opinion articles on our newsletter. This article does not necessarily reflect the official position of EASPD.