Category Archives: Social Measures for Target Groups: Disability and Old Age

Disability is a multifaceted reality. It affects some individuals throughout their existence and others only at the end of their life. In general, individuals who have reached old age or are suffering from a handicap are not equal in terms of living and working conditions. In addition, the European Union is faced with an unprecedented demographic upheaval which will have major repercussions on society as a whole. At European level, the Institutions help the Member States to create a society that is accessible to all by strengthening cooperation with and between them and promoting the collection, exchange and processing of comparable data, statistics and good practice.

Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Disability is a multifaceted reality. It affects some individuals throughout their existence and others only at the end of their life. In general, individuals who have reached old age or are suffering from a handicap are not equal in terms of living and working conditions. In addition, the European Union is faced with an unprecedented demographic upheaval which will have major repercussions on society as a whole. At European level, the Institutions help the Member States to create a society that is accessible to all by strengthening cooperation with and between them and promoting the collection, exchange and processing of comparable data, statistics and good practice.

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

  • European Disability Strategy (2010-2020)

Transversal actions

  • Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities
  • Equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European action plan (2004-2010)
  • Promotion and protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities at international level
  • Towards a barrier free Europe for people with disabilities
  • European Year of People with Disabilities 2003
  • Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

Specific actions

  • Equal treatment in employment and occupation
  • Parking card for people with disabilities

ELDERLY PEOPLE

  • European Year for Active Ageing (2012)
  • 2009 Ageing Report
  • Ageing well in the information society: The Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Programme
  • Europe’s response to world ageing
  • Development of high-quality, accessible and sustainable health care and long-term care
  • The future of health care and care for the elderly: guaranteeing accessibility, quality and financial viability
  • Promoting solidarity between the generations
  • The demographic future of Europe – from challenge to opportunity
  • Green Paper “Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations”
  • Towards a Europe for All Ages

2009 Ageing Report

2009 Ageing Report

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about 2009 Ageing Report

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

2009 Ageing Report

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 29 April 2009 – Dealing with the impact of an ageing population in the EU (2009 Ageing Report) [COM(2009) 180 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission uses the projections presented by Eurostat in 2008 as a basis to report on the long-term effects of demographic ageing.

The economic impact of ageing

According to these projections, the employment rate will increase from 65.5 % in 2007 to 70 % in 2060. The employment of women and older workers is also likely to rise, as will net immigration levels. However, these developments will only slow down the overall fall in employment, due to the shrinking working age population. While there are now four workers for every retired person, this will move to two workers for each elderly person in 2060.

The ageing population will also have consequences on the annual growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and labour productivity will become the main source of economic growth.

The impact of ageing on public finances

Member States will be faced with new budgetary constraints. The reform of pension schemes should ensure that services are matched to the needs of the elderly whilst tightening the eligibility requirements for receiving a public pension and developing funded schemes.

The increase in demand for care is likely to lead to an increase of 1.5% in European GDP by 2060. Furthermore, the duration of care will increase and public cover for the elderly will be developed. On the other hand, medical research should be a significant growth factor, as should services for senior citizens.

Lastly, despite a fall in the birth rate, spending on education and lifelong training will prove to be essential in fostering productivity and human capital.

The impact of the international financial crisis

The programme of structural reforms aimed at allowing the EU to meet the demographic challenge involves the adoption of a series of measures aimed at achieving balanced budgets, reducing the public debt, increasing employment and productivity, and guaranteeing the viability of social protection and healthcare systems.

However, in 2009 Member States should give priority to the European Economic Recovery Plan. In this context, the Commission presents amended objectives to prepare for the ageing population. National measures should promote:

  • birth rates, by creating favourable conditions for families;
  • labour market participation , aiming particularly at young people and older workers. The participation of older workers involves adapted working conditions and healthcare;
  • economic productivity and progression towards a knowledge-based economy. In this regard, investments should be made in education, new technologies and services for the elderly;
  • conditions for receiving migrants. The international financial crisis has consequences on the situation of developing countries and migratory flows. However, migrants may also face more difficulties finding a job in Europe;
  • the viability of public finances and continuing reforms related to the demographic decline.

The measures taken at Community level are framed by the Stability and Growth Pact which forms the basis for the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (2008-2010), and the Renewed Lisbon Strategy. The Commission encourages:

  • strengthening of budgetary supervision and the coordination of national policies;
  • reform of national pension schemes;
  • protection of financial markets, particularly concerning their impact on pension schemes;
  • regular evaluation of progress and needs in the areas of education, training, research and development.

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2010/48/ECof 26 November 2009 concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Summary

The European Union (EU) has acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This international Convention is intended to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.

To this end, the Convention is based on a series of principles:

  • respect for the dignity, autonomy and independence of persons;
  • non-discrimination;
  • participation and inclusion in society;
  • respect for difference and acceptance of persons;
  • equality of opportunity;
  • accessibility, in particular access to transportation, information and communications, public facilities and services, in urban and rural areas;
  • equality between men and women;
  • respect for the identity of children with disabilities and for their evolving capacities.

States which have acceded to the Convention shall take all necessary measures to ensure respect for these principles on an ongoing basis. They also undertake to support the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities.

In addition, persons with disabilities should be consulted in the development and implementation of legislation and policies relating to them.

Protection against discrimination

All discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited and persons with disabilities are to receive equal and effective legal protection.

The Convention contains specific provisions in relation to two population groups:

  • women with disabilities, who are subject to multiple discrimination. Measures are to be taken to ensure their full development and their autonomy;
  • children with disabilities, who are entitled to protection of their best interests in decisions affecting them, also have the right to express their views freely and to be provided with appropriate assistance.

States which are Parties to the Convention undertake to combat stereotypes and to promote awareness of the capabilities of persons with disabilities.

Rights recognised by the Convention

The Convention lays down a series of rights and freedoms to which persons with disabilities are entitled. These include:

  • the right to life;
  • protection in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies;
  • recognition as persons before the law and of legal capacity, especially with a view to owning property and freedom to manage their own finances, while being protected against abuse;
  • access to justice, thanks to procedural accommodations;
  • liberty and security;
  • freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse;
  • protection of physical and mental integrity;
  • liberty of movement, the right to choose place of residence and nationality;
  • living independently and being included in the community;
  • personal mobility, especially through mobility devices and technologies;
  • freedom of expression and access to information;
  • respect for privacy;
  • respect for home and the family;
  • the right to education;
  • access to health services;
  • habilitation and rehabilitation, by attaining full physical, mental, social and vocational ability;
  • the right to work, without discrimination and under just and favourable conditions;
  • the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection;
  • participation in political and public life, including by voting and being elected;
  • participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

Implementation of the Convention

International cooperation action may be undertaken for persons with disabilities, notably in partnership with relevant international and regional organisations.

States shall provide for one or more national focal points in order to inform the public about the Convention. They shall establish an independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of the Convention. Civil society shall be fully involved in monitoring action.

Finally, each State shall submit a comprehensive report on measures taken to fulfil its obligations, within two years of its accession to the Convention.

Context

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability (Article 21). Similarly, it recognises the right of persons with disabilities to independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community (Article 26). The Lisbon Treaty accords the same legal value to the Charter as to the Treaties (Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union).

European Year for Active Ageing

European Year for Active Ageing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Year for Active Ageing

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

European Year for Active Ageing (2012)

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 940/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2011 on the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012) (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

The 2012 European Year acts as a framework to promote active ageing and solidarity between generations. The European Union (EU) faces a rapidly ageing population and decreasing birth rate.

It is therefore necessary to improve employment opportunities and working conditions for older workers, but also to improve their inclusion in society and to encourage healthy ageing. The actions carried out take account of equal treatment between people and gender equality.

Objectives of the European Year

The EU encourages and supports initiatives by the public authorities of its Member States, whether they take place at national, regional or local level. The social partners, actors in civil society and entreprises are also encouraged to carry out actions to promote solidarity and cooperation between generations.

The activities organised at European level and in the EU countries shall:

  • raise awareness among the general public of the importance of older persons’ participation in society and the economy;
  • stimulate debate, exchange of information and mutual learning between participating countries in order to promote good practice and cooperation;
  • offer a framework for commitment and concrete action to develop activities and innovative solutions, but also to set new long-term policy objectives;
  • combat age discrimination, particularly with regard to employability.

Operation

The European Year is open to participation by EU Member States, candidate countries and countries of the Western Balkans and the European Economic Area (EEA). Actions may also be organised in cooperation with competent international organisations.

In order to ensure that the activities are properly coordinated, each participating State shall appoint a national coordinator. In addition, the Commission shall be responsible for coordinating the Year at European level during meetings between the national coordinators and the various actors concerned.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision No 940/2011/EU

24.9.2011

OJ L 246 of 23.9.2011

European Disability Strategy

European Disability Strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Disability Strategy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

European Disability Strategy (2010-2020)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 November 2010 – European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe [COM(2010) 636 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission presents a strategy to increase the participation of people with disabilities in society and the economy, and enable them to fully exercise their rights.

The strategy is based on the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Furthermore, the Commission’s action forms part of the Europe 2020 Strategy, and is based on the provisions of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and of the Lisbon Treaty.

In order to foster the inclusion of people with disabilities, the Commission has identified eight areas for joint action between the EU and Member States. The areas were identified following an analysis of the results of the EU Disability Action Plan (2003-2010) and consultations carried out in Member States.

Accessibility

People with disabilities must have access to goods, services and assistive devices. Similarly, their access to transport, facilities, and information and communication technologies must be ensured in the same way as for able-bodied people.

Participation

People with disabilities must be able to fully exercise their fundamental rights as regards European citizenship. This Strategy must contribute to:

  • overcoming obstacles to the mobility of people with disabilities – as individuals, consumers, students, and economic and political actors;
  • guaranteeing the quality of hospital care and accommodation in residential institutions, financed by the Structural Funds;
  • guaranteeing accessibility of organisations, venues and services, including those relating to sports and culture.

Equality

Active policies must be implemented in order to promote equality at European level and in Member States. Furthermore, the Commission must ensure that European legislation is strictly applied to combat discrimination based on disability, particularly Directive 2000/78/EC for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

Employment

European action must allow the number of disabled workers in the traditional labour market to be increased, in particular by introducing active employment policies and improving accessibility to workplaces.

Action is also required in collaboration with social partners to foster intra-job mobility (including in sheltered workshops), to encourage self-employment and to improve the quality of jobs.

Education and training

Disabled pupils and students must benefit from an accessible education system and lifelong learning programmes. The Strategy therefore supports the accessibility of general education systems, individual support measures, and the training of professionals working in education.

In addition, people with disabilities must be better informed about the possibilities of training and mobility, in particular as part of the Youth on the Move initiative and the Education and Training 2020 strategy.

Social protection

Social protection systems can compensate for the income inequalities, risks of poverty and social exclusion to which people with disabilities are subject. In this context, the performance and sustainability of social protection systems should be assessed, including with regard to pension systems, public housing programs and access to basic services.

The strategy encourages the use of Structural Funds and the adoption of appropriate national measures.

Health

People with disabilities must benefit from equality of access to services and health facilities, including mental health facilities. In order to safeguard this principle of equality, services must be affordable and appropriate to people’s specific needs.

Additionally, specific attention should be paid to the health and safety of disabled workers.

External action

The EU undertakes to promote the rights of people with disabilities at international level. Its action is carried out in the context of the enlargement, neighbourhood and development policies as well as within international institutions such as the Council of Europe or the UN.

Implementation

The Strategy is based on a joint commitment of the EU institutions and the Member States. Their joint actions are aimed at:

  • raising society’s awareness of disability-related issues and promoting the rights of people with disabilities;
  • developing European funding possibilities;
  • improving the collection and processing of statistical data;
  • ensuring that the enforcement of the United Nations Convention is monitored in Member States and within European institutions.

Towards a Europe for All Ages

Towards a Europe for All Ages

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards a Europe for All Ages

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Towards a Europe for All Ages

1) Objective

Raising awareness and prompting a more active response at all levels with regard to the implications of the ageing of the population. Proposing a strategy for effective policy responses, based on strengthening cooperation amongst all actors and solidarity and equity between generations.

2) Community Measures

Commission Communication of 21 May 1999: Towards a Europe for All Ages – Promoting prosperity and Intergenerational Solidarity.

3) Contents

This communication constitutes the contribution of the European Commission to the UN International Year of Older Persons (1999). It aims to stimulate debate between and with Member States.

Besides adopting this communication, the Commission is supporting a series of studies and conferences on the various aspects of active ageing in order to help the Member States in their search for sound strategies, as part of the International Year of Older Persons 1999.

Between 1960 and 1995, the average life expectancy of EU citizens increased by 8 years for men and 7 years for women. This longer lifespan, coupled with the drop in fertility, makes the phenomenon of demographic ageing particularly dramatic in the 21st century.

The communication describes the challenges with which the ageing of the population will confront our societies.

Relative decline of the working age population and ageing of the workforce

The next 20 years will see considerable changes in this field. Between 1995 and 2015, the 20-29 age group will fall in number by 11 million (-20 percent), while the 50-64 age group will increase by 16.5 million (+ 25 percent).

In the light of these forecasts, a strong focus on the age aspects of human resources management, a factor that has until now been neglected, is called for. It also implies reviewing policies which encourage an early exit from the labour market, instead of lifelong learning and new opportunities.

Pressure on pension systems and public finances stemming from the growing number of retired people and a decline in the working age population

Over the next 20 years, the population above the standard retirement age (65 years) will increase by 17 million. Within this group the very old (those over 80) will increase by 5.5 million.

Intergenerational equity requires that greater importance be given to the long-term sustainability of public finances. A broader base for social protection systems must be secured through a higher employment rate for people of working age. In particular, pension systems must be made less sensitive to demographic changes.

A growing need for health care for older persons

The sharp growth in the number of very old people in need of care will lead to a growing demand on formal care systems. These systems will have to gear up to the new situations. At the same time, policies must be developed with the aim of curtailing the growth in dependency through the promotion of healthy ageing, accident prevention and post-illness rehabilitation.

Growing diversity among older people in terms of resources and needs

Differences in family and housing situations, educational and health status and income and wealth crucially determine the quality of life of older people. Nowadays, the majority of older people enjoy good living conditions. Nonetheless, the fact that conditions are better than in the past for most people should not blind us to the continued risk of social exclusion and poverty tied to age.

It is therefore essential to have policies which more accurately reflect the diversity of social situations of older people, better mobilise resources for more of them, and more effectively combat the risks of social exclusion late in life.

Genderrelated aspects

The gender issue is also of particular importance, especially as regards social protection. Today women account for almost two-thirds of the over-65s. The historically weak labour market participation of women, social protection systems based on the model of the male breadwinner, and gender differences in longevity have resulted in many older women receiving drastically insufficient pensions.

Faced with the wide-ranging impact of the problems caused by the ageing of the population of the Member States, the Commission has come to a series of policy conclusions.

European Employment Strategy

In the European Employment Strategy, the European Union has set out to combat unemployment and significantly increase the employment rate of Europe on a lasting basis. The low employment rate of older workers is considered an important factor and, due to this, Member States have been invited to develop measures aimed at:

  • keeping workers in the labour market longer;
  • promoting life-long learning;
  • increasing work flexibility (through part-time work);
  • adjusting the tax and benefit systems;
  • providing better incentives for employment and training.

The Strategy stresses the particular role of the social partners in this regard. The Commission will invite the social partners to reflect on how to integrate the problem of population ageing into human resource management.

Policies on social protection

In its work programme for 1999, the Commission has undertook to develop policies to modernise and improve social protection.

To fulfil this undertaking, the Commission could adopt a communication on social protection, proposing a new process of cooperation with Member States in this field. The issues that it seems particularly important to address are finding ways to reverse the trend towards early retirement, exploring new forms of gradual retirement and making pension schemes better and more flexible.

Health and medical research policies

The Commission will pay special attention to medical and social research related to ageing in the fifth framework programme for Community research. This action aims to cover a wide range of research activity, including basic, medical, technological and social research.

The health aspects of ageing are also a central concern in preparations for the development of new public health instruments at Community level.

Furthermore, the Commission will support the Member States in their efforts to develop adequate responses to the effect of ageing on health and care through studies of how different national systems work.

Combating discrimination and social exclusion

In its Social Action Programme 1998 – 2000, the Commission undertook to put forward proposals based on article 13 of the Treaty (amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam) in which workplace-based discrimination on grounds of age or other factors would be dealt with.

The programme also sets out the Commission’s intention to explore the possibilities of developing new Community action programmes based on articles 13, 129 and 137 of the Treaty, which would allow protection of older persons affected by discrimination, unemployment and social exclusion.

The magnitude of the demographic changes set to take place as we enter the 21st century will force the European Union to rethink and change outmoded practices and institutions.

An active society for all ages requires a strategy which both enables and motivates older people to stay involved in working and in social life. The growing number of retired people constitutes a wealth of under-utilised experience and talent. They also create new needs to be met by enterprises, governments and NGOs.

4) Deadline For Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States

Not applicable

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

Not applicable

6) Commission Implementing Measures

7) References

Commission Communication COM(99) 221 final
Not published in the Official Journal

8) Follow-Up Work

Parking card for people with disabilities

Parking card for people with disabilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Parking card for people with disabilities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Parking card for people with disabilities

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 98/376/EC of 4 June 1998 on a parking card for people with disabilities [See amending acts].

Summary

The Council of the European Union recommends the Member States to:

  • introduce a parking card for people with disabilities in accordance with the respective national provisions, on the basis of the standardised Community model described in the Annex;
  • recognise, as from 1 January 1998, the parking cards for people with disabilities introduced by each Member State in accordance with the standardised Community model, so that cardholders may benefit from the associated parking facilities available in the Member State in which they happen to be;
  • issue the parking card only to people whose disability causes them to have reduced mobility;
  • provide those concerned, when the parking card is issued or on request, with an overview of the conditions of use in the different Member States;
  • take the necessary steps to ensure that the parking cards for people with disabilities, based on the standardised Community model, are made available by 1 January 2000 at the latest (cards of the type already existing in a Member State may continue to be used in that country until they are replaced);
  • inform the Commission, before 1 July 2000, of the measures taken pursuant to this Recommendation.

References

Act Date of entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Recommendation 98/376/EC

4.6.1988

OJ L 167 of 2.6.1998

Amending act(s) Date
of entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Recommendation 2008/205/EC

3.3.2008

OJ L of 7.3.2008

Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

The aim of these two texts is to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities by incorporating disability issues into Community policies and to consolidate cooperation between Member States in preventing all forms of discrimination on grounds of disability.

Document or Iniciative

Communication of the Commission of 30 July 1996 on equality of opportunity for people with disabilities: A New European Community Disability Strategy [COM(96) 406 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 20 December 1996 on equality of opportunity for people with disabilities [Official Journal C 12 of 13.01.1997].

Summary

Communication

One out of ten citizens in the European Community has a disability, which may be of a physical, sensory, mental or psychic nature.

There are still a number of obstacles to the integration of people with disabilities into society:

  • in education, many children with disabilities are excluded from mainstream schools and are confined to institutions which give them no opportunity for normal social interaction;
  • in the field of employment, a great number of people with disabilities within the working age are excluded from the labour market; they are also two to three times more likely to be unemployed and to be so for longer periods than the rest of the working population;
  • many transport systems and public buildings continue to be inaccessible or accessible only with difficulty to people with disabilities;
  • as regards housing, suitably adapted or adaptable accommodation is in short supply and prohibitively expensive;
  • welfare systems tend to provide a minimum level of support, falling some way short of achieving the goal of integration.

Historically, the response to disability has been mainly one of social compensation through charity and the development of specialist caring services outside the mainstream of society. However necessary and well intentioned they might be, such responses have compounded the problem of exclusion and under-participation.

The traditional approaches are slowly giving way to a stronger emphasis on identifying and removing the various barriers to equal opportunities and full participation in all aspects of life.

Responsibility for eliminating exclusion and discrimination based on disability lies primarily with the Member States. The new approach is already being implemented in all the Member States, in different ways and at different speeds.

The Commission considers that Community-level involvement can bring significant added value to the efforts of the Member States. The strategy will be organised along the following lines:

  • consolidation of the cooperation with and between the Member States: establishment of a high-level group of Member State representatives on disability,
  • development of social dialogue focusing on disability-related issues;
  • continued support for non-governmental organisations working in the field of disability to encourage European cooperation;
  • incorporation of disability issues into the formulation of Community policy proposals: an interdepartmental group focussed on issues relating to disability has been set up by the Commission.
  • strengthening of measures to prevent long-term unemployment and to integrate disabled people into working life in line with the European employment strategy;
  • assessment of the extent and impact of Structural Fund action targeting people with disabilities, with particular reference to combating social exclusion.

Resolution

The Council reaffirms its commitment to equal opportunities for people with disabilities and to the principle of avoiding or abolishing all forms of negative discrimination based solely on disability.

The Council calls upon the Member States to ascertain whether their policies take account of the need to eliminate all obstacles to full participation in social life by disabled people and to educate public opinion to be receptive to the abilities of disabled people. Member States are equally encouraged to promote the participation of disabled people in the implementing and following-up of the policies and relevant actions.

The Council calls upon the Commission to integrate the dimension of “equality of opportunity for people with disabilities” into all its relevant proposals and to encourage the exchange of useful information and experience, particularly with regard to innovative policies and good practice. The Commission is also called upon to present periodic reports summarising the progress made and obstacles encountered in implementing the resolution on the basis of information supplied by the Member States.

Related Acts

Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 17 June 1999 on equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities [Official Journal C 186 of 02.07.1999].

The Council calls on the Member States to:

  • place particular emphasis on the promotion of employment opportunities for people with disabilities and to develop preventive and active policies to promote their integration into the labour market;
  • make full use of the existing and future possibilities of the European Structural Funds, in particular the European Social Fund;
  • attach particular attention to the possibilities offered by the development of the information society.

The Council invites the social partners at all levels to play an increasing role in creating improved employment opportunities and negotiated work organisation changes in cooperation with people with disabilities.

The Council invites people with disabilities themselves and their organisations to make their contribution towards the goal of equal employment opportunities by sharing and exchanging their experience with all those involved in the labour market..

The Council encourages the Community institutions to promote equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities within their own services.

The Council calls upon the Commission to work together with the Member States, in particular within the framework of the European employment guidelines, to monitor and analyse the development of the employment of people with disabilities and to develop new strategies and campaigns, taking into consideration national, regional and local differences.

The Council affirms that, in the framework of a coherent global policy, equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities will be enhanced if specific attention is given to areas such as workplace accommodation, access to the place of work, qualifications and skills required at work and access to vocational guidance and placement services.

Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 15 July 2003 on promoting the employment and social integration of people with disabilities [Official Journal C 175 of 24.07.2003].

The Council calls on the Member States and the Commission, within the framework of their respective powers, to take new and concrete measures to promote the employment and social integration of people with disabilities.

European Year of People with Disabilities 2003

European Year of People with Disabilities 2003

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Year of People with Disabilities 2003

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

European Year of People with Disabilities 2003

The main purpose of the Year was to drive forward the political agenda for full integration of people with disabilities as set out in 2001 in the Communication from the Commission entitled “Towards a barrier-free Europe for people with disabilities”.

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2001/903/EC of 3 December 2001 on the European Year of People with Disabilities 2003.

Summary

Objectives and measures envisaged

1. The objectives of this European Year of People with Disabilities (EYPD) were as follows:

  • to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities to protection against discrimination in compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
  • to encourage reflection on and discussion of the measures needed to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in Europe;
  • to promote the exchange of experience of good practice and effective strategies devised at local, national and European level;
  • to reinforce the cooperation between all parties concerned, namely government at all levels, the private sector, communities, social partners, the voluntary sector, researchers, voluntary sector groups, people with disabilities and their families;
  • to improve communication regarding disability and promote a positive image of people with disabilities;
  • to raise awareness of the heterogeneity of people with disabilities and of the multiple discrimination facing people with disabilities;
  • to pay special attention to awareness of the right of children and young people with disabilities to equality in education.

2. The measures designed to meet the objectives mainly concern:

  • the organisation of meetings and events, including the opening and closing conferences;
  • information and promotional campaigns;
  • cooperation with the media;
  • surveys and studies;
  • events designed to disseminate information and in particular examples of good practice;
  • the provision of financial support for initiatives taken at transnational, national, regional or local level with a view to promoting the objectives of the European Year.

3. These different measures are described in detail in the annex to the proposal.

Funding, budget and organisation

4. The European Year of People with Disabilities has a budget of 12 million euro for 2002 (preparatory measures) and 2003.
As set out in the annex, Community-wide actions are subsidised up to 80% via the budget allocated to the event, while national measures are subsidised up to 50%. The Commission grants overall subsidies to each Member State, which redistributes them to the national coordination bodies responsible for supporting the different measures at local, regional and national level. Specific provisions govern the application and selection procedures and their co-financing.

5. The Commission is responsible for managing the actions provided for in the framework of this European Year with the assistance of an advisory committee made up of representatives of the Member States. Besides, it organises exchanges of views with the disability community and the NGOs that represent them concerning the implementation of the different events.

6. The Commission should present to the Parliament, by 31 December at the latest, an evaluation report to determine the genuine impact of this European Year and the lessons to be learnt for the future.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2001/903/EC

19.12.2001

L 335 of 19.02.01

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 13 October 2005 on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the European Year of People with Disabilities 2003 [COM(2005) 486 – Not published in the Official Journal]

Key actions at EU level

  • Information and promotion campaign with the slogan “Get on board” established to emphasise the participative nature of the EYPD.
  • A campaign bus was present at 211 events in 181 towns and cities during 2003.
  • A logo was created and an interactive and easy to access website was set up.
  • Calls for proposals were launched, for information campaigns to support the main campaign and targeting specific populations or relating to transnational projects.
  • A corporate participation programme was developed to bring large companies on board the EPYD campaign.
  • The EYPD was a key component of many major European events and conferences, such as the European Mobility Week, a conference on e-accessibility, the regional dimension of disability policy etc.

Key actions at national level

  • The participating countries set up national coordinating bodies in which representatives of people with disabilities were involved.
  • These national bodies were supported by regional and local groups established specifically to join the EYPD campaign.
  • Special national websites were established.
  • Campaign assistants took over overall responsibility for the bus and its route as it passed through each participating country.

Key results of the EYPD campaign

  • According to a survey in September 2003, one third of the EU population were aware of the EYPD and its purpose.
  • The campaign bus’s journey was a key element in emphasising the European nature of the campaign. The bus generated considerable media attention and managed to reach many small towns.
  • Media coverage of the event was substantial, and the website was widely consulted (500 000 visits in 2003).
  • The corporate participation programme can also be seen as a positive result.
  • At national level, the commitment to the decentralised approach, involving the drawing up of national priorities for the EYPD and ensuring the involvement of disabled people throughout the campaign, can be seen as a key result and one of the main factors in the success of this campaign. The decentralised funding approach chosen by the Commission in cooperation with the participating countries has clearly had a particularly substantial leverage effect within the campaign.

Council Resolution of 6 May 2003 on accessibility of cultural infrastructure and cultural activities for people with disabilities [Official Journal C 134 of 07.06.2003]. 
The Council invites the Member States and the Commission, within their respective competences, to take new concrete action to improve access for the disabled to cultural infrastructure, cultural activities and the media.

Council Resolution of 5 May 2003 on equal opportunities for pupils and students with disabilities in education and training [Official Journal C 134 of 07.06.2003]. 
The Council invites the Member States and the Commission, within their respective competences, to take new concrete action so that people with disabilities have better access to teaching and training in a lifelong learning perspective.

Council Resolution of 6 February 2003 on “eAccessibility” — Improving the access of people with disabilities to the knowledge-based society [Official Journal C 39 of 18.02.2003]. 
The Council calls on Member States and the Commission to tap the information society’s potential for people with disabilities and, in particular, tackle the removal of technical, legal and other barriers to their effective participation in the knowledge-based society.

Equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European action plan

Equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European action plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European action plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European action plan (2004-2010)

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 30 October 2003, Equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European action plan [COM(2003) 650 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The proposed action plan, covering the period from 2004 to 2010, seeks to set out a sustainable and operational approach to disability issues in the enlarged Europe. It has three central objectives:

  • to implement fully the Directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation;
  • to reinforce mainstreaming of disability issues in the relevant Community policies;
  • to improve accessibility for all.

POLICY CONTEXT

The overall Community approach: objectives and means

The main purpose of the action plan is to recognise and protect the rights of people with disabilities. Moreover, the Charter of Fundamental Rights specifically protects the rights of people with disabilities, and its incorporation into the future Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe will be a major advance.

In accordance with the Commission’s communication of May 2000 “Towards a barrier-free Europe for people with disabilities”, the environmental, technical and legal obstacles to the effective participation of people with disabilities in a knowledge-based economy and society must be removed.

Facts and trends

The definitions and criteria applying to disability are currently laid down in national legislation and differ from one Member State to another.

According to the results of surveys carried out in 2001 at EU level, 14.5% of the population of the 15 Member States (with the exception of Sweden) of working age (16 to 64) reported some form of disability.
In the case of the ten new acceding States, this percentage amounts to 25%.
These results also highlight the fact that there is a correlation between ageing and disability. Owing to the ageing of the population and improvements in health care, the number of people with disabilities in the European Union is increasing and will continue to do so.
A further point to note is that only 42% of people with disabilities are employed (compared to almost 65% of non-disabled people), and 52% of people with disabilities are economically inactive (compared to 28% of non-disabled people).
The conclusion to be drawn is that people with disabilities, while experiencing difficulties in finding work, are a source of untapped potential for the development of economic growth.

Main Community-level achievements

In November 2000, the Council adopted Directive 2000/78/EC prohibiting all discrimination, whether direct or indirect, based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, as regards access to employment. Where disability is concerned, this Directive recognises that the failure to provide “reasonable accommodation” in the workplace can constitute discrimination.

The Community action programme to combat discrimination (2001-06) aims to support the Member States in their fight against discrimination, including disability-related aspects.

The Commission supports international efforts geared to ensuring that fundamental rights are enjoyed fully and equally by people with disabilities. The Commission thus backs the United Nations Convention for promoting and protecting the rights of people with disabilities (see communication entitled ” Towards a United Nations legally binding instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities “).

With a view to facilitating the free movement of people with disabilities, the Commission has already undertaken to reduce the number of disability benefits that are not exportable from one Member State to another (proposed amendment of Regulation (EEC) No 883/2004 on social security schemes).

First phase of the action plan (2004-2005)

The first phase of this action plan, covering a two-year period (2004-05), will concentrate on creating the conditions necessary to promote the employment of people with disabilities, granting them appropriate autonomy in this regard.
The priority action areas come under four headings:

  • Access to, and remaining in, employment

Directive 2000/78/EC requires certain Member States to alter their existing rules considerably. It has huge implications for employers – public and private – and their employment practices as regards people with disabilities. Effective application of this Directive depends on the key players being made aware of their duties and responsibilities.

The main European Social Fund programmes and the Community initiative EQUAL finance a wide range of measures aimed at integrating people with disabilities into the labour market, while taking innovative approaches to specific aspects of such integration.

The Commission has also taken action in the field of competition policy with the adoption, in November 2002, of a Regulation on State aid for employment, allowing the Member States to finance up to 60% of annual wage costs and social security contributions when companies recruit disabled workers. Aid may also be granted to compensate for reduced productivity or to adapt premises.

As regards health and safety at work, Directive 89/654/EC concerning minimum safety and health requirements for the workplace provides that “workplaces must be accommodated to take account, where required, of the needs of disabled workers”.

  • Lifelong learning

The use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) providing on-line instruction or “eLearning” can be one way of overcoming the barriers to education, training and learning on a lifelong basis that are faced by people with disabilities. The Commission’s proposed eLearning programme therefore refers expressly to the needs of people with disabilities, as do the action plans on language learning and linguistic diversity, and on skills and mobility.

The Commission will have to pursue various lines of action in the fields of education, training and youth:

  • give high priority to promoting exchanges of good practice and identifying factors of success (or failure) in relation to the integration of people with disabilities, in connection with the implementation of the work programme on the objectives of education and training syatems;
  • pay particular attention, in terms of the design and implementation of the future eLearning action programme (2004-06), to the special needs of people with disabilities;
  • include people with disabilities as a target group in the PLOTEUS information system;
  • pay particular attention to projects involving people with disabilities in the Socrates, Leonardo and Youth programmes;
  • monitor the e-accessibility of websites and media products for lifelong learning.

On the research front, the Commission will disseminate and exploit the results of studies forming part of the Sixth Framework Research Programme (6FP).

  • Harnessing the potential of new technologies

Activities relating to accessibility, under the e-Europe 2002 action plan, gave some good results and ought to be followed up. Further to the W3C/WAI initiative, the Member States have adopted accessibility guidelines for public websites. The Council also adopted a resolution on e-accessibility in December 2002.

The eEurope 2005 action plan will seek to ensure that people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups can participate in and have equal access to major innovations in on-line public services, covering e-government, e-learning and e-health, and also to create a dynamic, accessible e-business environment.

  • Accessibility to the public built environment

The design and construction of buildings in compliance with the principle of universal design (“design-for-all”) ought to be stepped up so that people with disabilities are guaranteed better and effective access to the workplace.

The availability of accessible cultural and leisure facilities is also essential for improving the quality of life of people with disabilities. The Council recognised this in its resolution of 6 May 2003 on accessibility of cultural infrastructure and cultural activities for people with disabilities. Likewise, in its resolution of 21 May 2002 on the future of European tourism, the Council called on the Commission, the Member States and other interested parties to step up their efforts to facilitate accessibility to tourist sites for people with disabilities.

Moreover, in its White Paper entitled “European transport policy for 2010: time to decide”, the Commission advocates greater use of accessible public transport.

The Commission ought to take further action in the following areas:

  • promotion of European standards in relation to all aspects of the built environment, including the planning, design, construction and use of buildings;
  • promotion of better education on accessibility issues in schools and among professionals;
  • incorporation of accessibility provisions in public procurement policies, taking this dimension into account also in the allocation of the Structural Funds;
  • encouragement for the development of studies into the accessibility of tourist sites and infrastructure, and of urban transport systems.

Second phase of the action plan (2006-2007)

The second phase of the action plan, covering a two-year period (2006-07), will focus on active inclusion and autonomy (right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community). It proposes four priorities:

  • Encouraging activity
  • Promoting access to quality support and care services
  • Fostering accessibility of goods and services for all
  • Increasing the EU’s analytical capacity

MONITORING AND FOLLOW-UP STRUCTURE

Improving executive capacity

The Commission’s Inter-service Group dealing with disability issues is responsible for advancing the action plan and monitoring the mainstreaming activities of the various Commission departments. It also has to give a progress report to the Equal Opportunities Group of Commissioners.

The European High-Level Group for matters relating to disability (expert group chaired by the Commission, bringing together specialists from the Member States) has the task of developing greater interaction between national policies.

The Union will step up its cooperation with organisations such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the European Standards Organisations (e.g. CEN), the European Special Needs Education Agency and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, so as to build mutually rewarding relationships and to benefit from their expertise and their think-tank work.

Strengthening governance

The Commission proposes to enhance its cooperation with the representatives of associations for people with disabilities, in particular with the European Disability Forum. It also wants the High-Level Group to conduct exchanges of views more frequently with civil society. The social partners should, moreover, be invited to make a full contribution to the promotion of equality for people with disabilities.

The Commission will encourage inter-institutional cooperation amongst EU institutions and bodies, in particular with the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and its Disability Intergroup.

Commission report on the situation of people with disabilities

The Commission’s report on people with disabilities should draw specific attention to the efforts made under Community policies to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Key contributions from the Member States will set out their achievements, particularly as regards mainstreaming disability issues in all relevant national policies. The Commission is to compile public reports every two years, in line with a structure established with the Member States and representatives of people with disabilities.