European Commission Non Discrimination legislation proposal fails to protect disabled people[3/07/2008]
Brussels, 02 July 2008 – The European Commission made public today its proposal for a directive on non discrimination outside employment.
The Commission proposal is based on and covers all grounds of the Treaty of Amsterdam Art. 13, i.e. “religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”. A separate article (Art. 4) focuses on the equal treatment of persons with disabilities.
“EDF appreciates the fact that the Commission has recognized the need of legal measures addressing non discrimination in other areas than employment. We welcome the wide scope of the document, including social protection, social advantages, health care, education, access to and supply of goods and services, which is consistent with the directive on anti-discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity. For persons with disabilities the principle of reasonable accommodation has been accompanied by the right to measures, ensuring effective non-discriminatory access by anticipation. However the draft directive is unclear, too short and introduces significant restrictions of the right to equality for disabled people in several areas, such as education and insurance. In addition it leaves room for interpretation and will create legal uncertainties”, said EDF President Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis.
“Some provisions are clearly in contradiction with the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, whereas some new legal concepts are introduced but are not defined”, added Mr. Vardakastanis, referring to the non-discrimination provisions in the Convention, which entered into force on 3 May and is to be ratified by the European Communities under the current French Presidency.
“At the same time important issues for persons with disabilities as the concept of universal design, the necessity of European and national accessibility standards and the right to services ensuring inclusion are left out. The significance of key areas such as access to information, transport, structures, providing access to transport, buildings where services are provided, public spaces, emergency and evaluation services, facilities and procedures related to elections for people with disabilities is not addressed properly in the directive due to lack of specific provisions”, underlined EDF President.
He also expressed the regrets of the disability movement that no meaningful consultation had been undertaken with civil society on the content of the proposal and instead a lot of precious time had been lost in discussions on its shape.
In conclusion Mr. Vardakastanis stressed that the proposal will require substantial changes in order to reach its objectives and to protect disabled people from discrimination and to respond to the demands of the over 1.3 million European citizens who supported EDF One Million for Disability Campaign with their signatures.
1.364.984 signatures !