European Parliament:
June Elections

by Rodolfo Cattani

To respect human rights and guarantee equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. This is what is stated in the Manifesto elaborated by the European Parliament of Disabled People.

Within the framework of the European Year of People with Disabilities, the European Parliament of Disabled People has met in Brussels on November 12, 2003 and has adopted a Manifesto for the elections of the European Parliament in June 2004.
The Manifesto will be disseminated throughout Europe by the National Councils of Disabled People and European Organizations representing persons with disabilities. It is an opportunity for future members of the new European Parliament to make strong commitments to concrete changes that will ensure that disabled people can fully enjoy their civil, social, economic and political rights.
Considering that persons with disabilities and their families make up 15% of the population, society should take concerns of disabled people into account.Picture of the European flag.Picture of a flying airplane
Disability issues are issues for everyone and the European Parliament of Disabled people calls on prospective MEPs to listen and address their demands. There are still too many barriers, which keep persons with disabilities from fully participating in society and their resolution is a responsibility of European and national institutions.
The 200 official delegates of the European Parliament, representing 37 million disabled people and parents of disabled people, called upon all candidates running as prospective members of the European parliament and all political parties to adopt the following commitments, which are crucial to respecting the human rights of disabled people in the society of an enlarged Europe.

Human rights legislation
1) Adopt disability specific directive: It is time to adopt a horizontal anti-discrimination directive, which removes barriers in all areas of EU competence to enable disabled people to achieve their full potential in their life and in society, and enjoy goods and services that are accessible to other citizens.
2) Support national non-discrimination legislation: Support and campaign for the adoption or improvement at national level of legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in areas of personal and social life. It is necessary to ensure there are strict and effective sanctions in cases of non-compliance.
3) Transpose Directive on Equal Treatment in Employment immediately: The Framework Directive on Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation, adopted by the European Union in 2000, must be immediately and fully transposed in all member states to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.
4) Support UN Convention on the human rights of persons with disabilities: The European Parliament will have to support the adoption by the United Nations of a convention, which protects the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Such convention is to be legally binding in nature with strong and effective monitoring mechanisms and sanctions in cases of non-compliance.

A Europe for all
5) Promotion of mainstreaming: Disability policy should be recognized across all areas of national policy specifically for the purpose of achieving equality of disabled persons.
6) Facilitate funding conditions: Support the introduction of accessibility criteria attached to the disbursement of European funds and consideration of the disability dimension in all projects. Involve disabled people's representatives in the development of the criteria for the allocation of funds.
7) Create a European Parliament for all: The European Parliament should be an example of good practice, guaranteeing to all, including persons with disabilities, a full and equal accessibility to facilities, documents, meetings and equal opportunities in employment.
8) Endorse Madrid Declaration: Picture of European flagsPicture of European flags The Madrid Declaration, approved in 2002 by the European Congress on Disability, is the ideal framework in favour of all disability policy during the European Year of People with Disabilities. Deciding on its own adoption of the Declaration, the European Parliament will lay down univocal and innovative standards for disability policy planning at all levels.

9) Join Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament: The newly elected MEPs are invited to become members of the Disability Intergroup, an informal grouping of MEPs from all nationalities and major political groups.
10) Consult disabled constituents: Constituents who have a disability and their representative organizations should have the opportunity to develop a constructive and courteous dialog with MEPs.

Full and equal access to democracy
11) Encourage consultation: When drafting their electoral programmes, parties should take into account issues and demands of organizations representing persons with disabilities and parents or guardians who are unable to represent themselves directly.
12) Guaranteeing accessible and inclusive political and electoral campaigns: Political and electoral campaigns should reach all voters with disabilities and include as key commitments the demands of such constituents. Campaign messages should be made available in alternative formats Picture of the European Parliamentsuch as Braille, large print, audio and electronic text. Information should be available in plain easy-to-read language and, where necessary, in sign languages.
13) Ensure accessibility of information about election procedure and methods of the vote itself: Persons with disabilities have the right to receive all necessary information on how to actively participate in the elections: The polling stations should be made accessible and the integrity of secret ballots ensured for all constituents including those with a disability. Electronic voting systems should be incremented and updated guaranteeing full accessibility and usability for all voters.
14) Encourage disabled citizens to run as candidates: Since candidate lists should be representative of society, persons with disabilities should be able to participate in the electoral process and run as candidates.

Nothing about us without us.