We call on the European Commission to move Disability Unit to the Secretariat-General

30 September 2019

30 September 2019 // Employment, health, digitalisation, transport, anti-discrimination laws, freedom of movement … persons with disabilities are affected by all EU policies. The EU Unit in charge of disability must act as a focal point to make sure the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) is respected and implemented across all policies and disability is mainstreamed in all EU policies. This is why IF joins the call to move the EU Disability Unit to the Secretariat-General.

On 29 September, IF signed the open letter of the European Disability Forum, together with seven other organisations and 8 MEPs, addressed to President-elect Von der Leyen, Vice-President-designate Schinas and Commissioner-designate Dalli which calls on the European Commission to relocate the Disability Unit to the Secretariat-General.

By including the fulfilment of the EU’s obligations stemming from the UN CRPD to the mandate of the Commissioner-designate for Equality, this was an initial step. Furthermore, establishing the Disability Unit at the heart of the European Commission will enable the European Commission to fulfill and adequately implement the UN CRPD.

Please find the open letter below:

Dear President-elect Von Der Leyen,

Vice-President designate Schinas,

Commissioner-designate Dalli,

It is a sign of clear progress that there is a Commissioner-designate for Equality with an assigned responsibility for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is with concern, however, that we see that this is not backed up by a change in the Commission services. If the current structure is not modified, the Unit in charge of disability issues, under the supervision of Commissioner for Equality, will not be able to adequately fulfil its crucial role in mainstreaming the obligations enshrined in the Convention across all the relevant Commission’s policies.

The full implementation of the Convention touches upon many different Commission responsibilities and policies: recruitment and selection of EU officials, internal market and digital market competences, transport, research and development, EU funds, international cooperation, and interinstitutional coordination, among many others.

This is why the Unit in charge of disability needs to move to the Secretariat-General. It should, furthermore, be fully dedicated to disability issues. This move will ensure that the Unit has the horizontal perspective necessary to ensure the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities, and the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the EU is a State Party.

Such a move is not unprecedented. In the Commission mandate 2009-2014, the Unit moved from DG Employment to DG Justice along with other Commission services tackling equality policies. The move was reversed in the mandate 2014-2019.

Moreover, this Unit should also be properly funded and staffed, if the EU is to realise its commitment to improve the lives of over 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

We therefore call on the elected Commission to establish a Unit fully dedicated to the realisation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities under the Secretariat-General, as soon as possible. We further ask that the Commission implements the necessary changes to ensure that they can fulfil its mandate adequately. It is an essential move to ensure that EU policies do not leave persons with disabilities behind.

MEP Jaroslaw Duda – European People’s Party – Poland
MEP Dragos Pîslaru – Renew Europe – Romania
MEP Maite Pagazaurtundúa – Renew Europe – Spain
MEP Kim van Sparrentak – Greens/EFA – Netherlands
MEP Alexis Georgoulis – GUE/NGL – Greece
MEP Sira Rego – GUE/NGL – Spain
MEP Manu Pineda – GUE/NGL – Spain
MEP Rosanna Conte – Identity & Democracy – Italy

European Disability Forum
Inclusion Europe
Autism Europe
European Blind Union
European Dyslexia Association
European Federation of Hard of Hearing People
European Network on Independent Living
European Union of the Deaf
International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus