ETUCE urges for a clear commitment to implement the new EU Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


On 3 March, the European Commission presented a new 10-year Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, since 2020 marked the conclusion of the previous Strategy. The policy proposal objective is to improve the lives of persons with disabilities through coordinated actions at the national and EU level and to foster the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Pillar of Social Rights. The new Strategy sets priorities to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy their human rights; have equal opportunities and equal access to participate in society and economy, including education. The priorities include ensuring that people with disabilities:

  • Enjoy the same rights as other EU citizens in mobility participation in the political life.
  • Live autonomously and independently while being fully included in the community.
  • Are protected from any form of discrimination and violence and have equal opportunities in and access to justice, education, culture, sport and tourism.

ETUCE welcomes the launching of the new strategy and the European Commission’s commitment to put the inclusion of persons with disabilities and special needs high on the EU education agenda. This was, indeed, one of the main demands expressed by ETUCE in its assessment of the implementation of the previous European disability strategy (2010-2020). In particular, ETUCE also welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to support teachers for and foster national actions “to address shortages of teachers in Special Needs Education and competences of all education professionals to manage diversity in the classroom and develop inclusive education” and “increased efforts to implement the Action Plan Educational Support and Inclusive Education focusing on accessibility and reasonable accommodation, adaptation of their curricula to the needs of learners with disabilities”.

Nevertheless, ETUCE points out that the Strategy mainly presents statements of intent but misses to provide concrete proposals and benchmarks for actions and initiatives. As the European Commission’s commitment to guarantee the implementation of the strategy remains weak and vague, ETUCE is concerned that this Strategy risks remaining a mere declaration and calls on all actors to hold the European Commission and member sates accountable to the implementation

Commenting on the new Strategy, European Director, Susan Flocken said “We welcome that the new Disability Strategy recognises the value of education in the inclusion of persons with disabilities and special needs. Now it must be the time for action. Education social partners should play a key role in defining an effective implementation plan linked to the review and revision of policies, programmes and funding instruments. Drawing lessons from the previous Disability Strategy, a clear and structured legal framework needs to be set up including a timeframe, budget and specific benchmarks and indicators.”


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