In 1993 and 2003 took place the first two editions of the
European Parliament of Disabled People. The first event was organized
under the initiative of the European Commission within the scope of the
HELIOS Program which came even before the foundation of the European
Disability Forum. It was a very important event, because it did justice to
the invisible among the invisible, but the movement was not sufficiently
organized and aware, so no particularly significant documents or proposals
have arisen from it.
The 2003 edition was much more relevant. That year
was celebrated the European Year of Persons with Disabilities and the
tenth anniversary of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities by the United Nations, the
most valid result of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons
More than 300 delegates representing people of all
disabilities from 28 European countries and with equitable gender and
geographical distribution met at Mid-Point of the European Parliament. The
Parliament itself supported the initiative offering logistic assistance.
Numerous parliamentarians participated with interest in the manifestation,
which was a historical opportunity for persons with disabilities to share
their political claims and to obtain the recognition of their own
At the end of the event many resolutions were approved as well
as the launch of the manifesto on the right of disabled people to European
elections, as voters as well as candidates.
That same year, the
European Commission launched the Disability Action Plan 2003-2010 and
the results of the debate in Parliament contributed in bringing light to
the basic demands of the movement: issuing general legislation against
discrimination to be included in the Union's Treaties, a specific
directive against discrimination of persons with disabilities in every
situation of their life and their active participation in all decisions
that concern them. A lot was expected from the insertion of Art. 14 in the
Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty of the European Union, which was
approved in the form of an ulterior agreement.
editions of the "Parliament" were of great importance because they
contributed to shape the cultural basis for inclusion and participation of
persons with disabilities in the social context, such as was the
concluding manifestation of the campaign aimed at gathering one million
signatures to obtain the proposal for a directive on discrimination, which
would have a political impact without precedent.
The reversal of the model
The United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified by the
European Union on December 23rd, 2010. It ratified the so-called "reversal
of the model", which is the approach to disability based on basic
rights and not on the traditional vision based on assistance and
solidarity. As a matter of fact, the Convention obligates the State
involve persons with disabilities in the process of fulfilment of the new
model which requires an innovative conception of the policy on disability.
The European Parliament has always been particulary heedful to the
requirements of our movement. The European Disability Forum has therefore
turned to it President Jerzy Buzek to organize together a new edition of
the European Parliament of Disabled People. Since January 2011, the
European Parliament has a new President, Martin Schultz, with whom
contacts have already been made.
In the actual financial crisis and
recession, persons with disabilities are greatly affected in most Member
States and it appears essential to reintroduce a progressist policy, which
risks being restrained by economic situation. The disability movement
wants to assert with strength that the fundamental rights are inviolable
and that governments cannot go against the weakest among the weak. As a
matter of fact, persons with disabilities pay the price just as much as
other citizens, but it is unfair that they should be penalized twice for
cuts on economic support and service offering.
At the European
Parliament, the Disability Intergroup works on issues relating to
disabilities and its President, Adam Kosa, has extended to his colleagues
the invitation to support with funds they have the participation of
disabled delegates in their respective countries.
Parliament of Disabled People will take place in November 2012. Delegates
will take a seat in the venue where plenary sessions will take place and
discuss procedural rules for representatives for debate and voting.
Sessions will be presided over jointly by parliamentarians and leaders of
The political issues that will be discussed
and brought to the attention of the European
Institutions are this year more important than ever.
Firstly, they will
assess the state of implementation of the UN Convention at the European
Union level and by Member States. In light of the Convention, will be
launched the campaign on the mobility of persons with disabilities within
the EU, with all the consequences on access to services and transfer of
rights and provisions. There are other issues that are as important in
relation to the implementation of the European Disability Strategy
2010-2020: the adoption of a European Disability Pact; the enhanced value
of the "State of the Union on Disability", a long term initiative that
anticipates closer consultation and more regular meetings between EU
Institutions and the European Forum on Disability; the adoption of a
measure relating to the accessibility of websites with a specific
It is clear that the matter of the Convention will be
dominant, also because soon the European Union will have to present to the
United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the
first report on its application.
Finally, delegates will have to face
the pressing issue of the impact of the economic crisis on persons with
disabilities, which may jeopardize dramatically the achievements of the
last few years obtained after much courageous struggles and great
sacrifices. The European Disability Forum has established an observatory
to study the phenomenon, gather data and formulate operative
The European Parliament of Disabled People 2012 will have to
mark an ulterior step forward for the disability movement in