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EESC opinion: Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

EESC opinion: Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

Key points:

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the Austrian presidency's request to draw up an opinion on equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities must be seen as an ongoing process that should feature high on the work programme of every EU Council presidency.

The EESC:

  • urges that the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All be put to the fullest possible use in securing equal opportunities for people with disabilities;
  • urges the Commission to submit a proposal for comprehensive legislation on disability issues that extends anti-discrimination protection for people with disabilities into areas other than employment and also consolidates the principle of mainstreaming disability policy;
  • urges the Commission and Member States to go further in focusing on disability – moving from the Disability Action Plan (DAP) to a broad-scale EU strategy for people with disabilities;
  • invites Member States and the Commission, within their respective competences, to continue efforts to ensure full inclusion and participation in society of people with disabilities;
  • reiterates the priorities necessary to focus on in order to achieve equal opportunities for people with disabilities: raising awareness of the rights of people with disabilities; disability access to public buildings; access to the information society and to modes of transport; drafting of new national legislation; and support for families, priorities which should exist in every society. It is especially important to focus on children with disabilities;
  • urges the European Commission and the Member States to be prepared to do considerably more to support the disability movement;
  • calls on the Commission and the Member States to make information available on best practices and effective approaches;
  • welcomes the Commission's determination to launch a European Initiative on e-Inclusion in 2008 and calls for it to be as far-reaching and ambitious as possible and a definitive step towards the mainstreaming of e-Accessibility in all relevant EU policies;
  • calls for a strengthening of Directive 2001/85/EC in order to bring it into line with new EC legislation on the rights of disabled air passengers;
  • calls on the Commission and the Member States to devote all necessary efforts and resources to make sure that Council Directive 2000/78/EC, which provides a legal framework for equal treatment in employment, is effectively implemented;
  • calls on the Commission and Member States to place emphasis on social services and personal assistance for people with disabilities.