EUROCITIES together with city representatives from Stuttgart and Toulouse took part in the EU conference to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3-4 December 2018.
This yearly event hosted by the European Commission and the European Disability Forum, is part of the EU's wider efforts to promote the mainstreaming of disability issues and to raise awareness of the everyday challenges faced by persons with disabilities. The event gathers politicians, high-level experts and persons with disabilities to discuss the challenges, the solutions and the projects for improving policies for persons with disabilities.
The 2018 conference had participants discuss potential priorities for the post-2020 European Disability Strategy, but also the possible ways in which it could be implemented, notably in the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework. The conference also celebrated the European Year of Cultural Heritage and reflected on accessibility of cultural heritage through the perspective of two good practices - Louvre Museum and city of Salzburg.
European Accessibility Act
The Director General of the European Commission DG EMPL, Joost Korte, opened the conference by referring to the recent achievement of getting an agreement on the European Accessibility Act, after over three years of debates on this directive between the European Parliament and member states in the Council of the EU. This new directive will remove barriers to accessible products and services, ranging from public procurement, structural funds as well as passenger transport, e-communications and audio-visual media. It is designed to ensure the transposition of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the EU member states. Korte said: ''The directive will benefit the 120 million Europeans with disabilities over the next decades and will make the EU turn into the largest market for accessible products and services.''
Shaping the European Disability Strategy for 2020-2030
In relation to the European Disability Strategy, MEP Helga Stevens presented the European Parliament's report and called for a more ambitious strategy for 2020-2030 to implement the UN convention. The Commission took the opportunity to announce an open public consultation from April to June 2019 on evaluating the current strategy and suggesting improvements for the next one. Persons with disabilities also expressed their expectations regarding the European Disability Strategy stressing insufficient impact of the current strategy that it did not lead to suitable policies with accessibility in all areas and called for the next strategy to be accompanied by a dedicated budget in order to make the implementation of UNCRPD a reality on the ground.
EUROCITIES voices the role of cities in delivering accessibility
Our delegation of EUROCITIES represented by Bianca Faragau, coordinator of the Social Affairs Forum, Simone Fischer from Stuttgart and Brigitte Grasset from Toulouse, took the floor in plenary to voice the key role of cities in ensuring integrated services and mainstreaming accessibility at local level. Stuttgart’s pledge to the EU Pillar of Social Rights principle 17 to invest in measures for the inclusion of the disabled is an example of the added value to involve cities in shaping the next EU Disability Strategy!
Breda wins the EU Access City Award
The Dutch city got the first prize at the EU Access City Awards for its inclusive philosophy, commitment to accessibility, engagement with people with disabilities and continuous improvement.
Lyon, last year's winner of the Access City Award, has passed on the title to Breda.
Your city too can contribute to building an accessible and inclusive Europe! Your city can apply for the Access City Award 2020. If you are interested to work more on accessibility or share your good practices, you can join our working group on Barrier-Free City.