The aim of this own - initiative opinion is to put forward recommendations to overcome existing obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from voting in EP elections in the EU. Indeed, in each of the 27 EU countries, there are rules or organisational arrangements that deprive some voters with disabilities of their right to vote. The EESC considers this unacceptable and contrary to the fundamental values of the EU, to the provisions of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to many international legal and political acts. Therefore, the EESC calls on the EP, the European Council and Member States to urgently amend the 1976 Electoral Act by clarifying the principles of universality, directness and secrecy of elections, so as to allow the implementation of common standards granting the right to vote to all EU citizens.
This opinion, requested by the German Presidency of the Council, makes the following main recommendations:
- data collection and monitoring of diversity policies in the labour market must be improved at all levels;
- the principles of diversity management must be integrated into EU rules and generalised;
- more funds should be allocated to diversity management, in order to support the work of civil society organisations working with racialized groups and the diversity policies put in place by the social partners;
- to tackle the underutilisation of migrants' skills and increase their participation in the labour market, these need to be further recognised. In addition, migrants should benefit from free and universal training, including language courses;
- migrants should be active, not only in the labour market, but also in politics;
The opinion presents the EESC's proposal for the new European Disability strategy 2020-2030, at a crucial moment in the EU landscape. With a new European Commission, a new European Parliament and a new budget programming period, the timing is perfect to come up with a Disability Strategy that fully takes into account the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD), the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The opinion tackles various policy areas, drawing attention to the crosscutting character of disability rights.
In each of the 27 EU countries, there are laws or organisational arrangements which exclude some voters with disabilities from participating in EP elections. If the best practices from across all countries were implemented, an ideal system would emerge in which every EU citizen with disabilities not only would have the full possibility to vote but also would be able to choose for themselves the most convenient way in which to vote.
The majority of road accidents are down to human error alone, so a comprehensive approach to road safety is needed. It should cover driver behaviour, the working conditions and skills of professional drivers, and infrastructure.
Women with disabilities constitute 16% of the total population of women in Europe, which means in the EU there are approximately 40 million women and girls with disabilities.
Women with disabilities face intersectional discrimination in all areas of life, including, socio-economic disadvantages, social isolation, violence against women, forced sterilisation and abortion, lack of access to community services, low-quality housing, institutionalisation, inadequate health care and denial of the opportunity to contribute and engage actively in society.
Accessibility is not just a technical issue but a human right. The aim of this own-initiative opinion is to draw the attention of policy makers to the challenges and barriers that still exist for people with disabilities.