14 June 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union by Mr. Michel Servoz, European Commission Director-General, DG Employment, social affairs and inclusion, at the Ninth Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
This year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Convention and we are moving very fast towards universal ratification. Two more EU Member States, Finland and the Netherlands, have ratified since last year’s Conference. Ireland is finalising the ratification process. Soon all EU Member States would be party to the Convention exemplifying the commitment of the EU to implement and secure the rights of persons with disabilities.
This is also the first time this conference meets after the adoption of the Agenda 2030. The European Union is very proud to have contributed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Sustainable Development Goals related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.
To support that process, the EU is funding a project for about seven million Euros with a component of approximately 1.5 million Euros with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). This project aims at the elaboration of human rights indicators for the CRPD as freely available which will allow better monitoring of the implementation of the Convention and support the work on the indicators for the monitoring of the SDGs ensuring the inclusion of the persons with disabilities.
Let me highlight that one of the eight areas of the European Disability Strategy relates to international cooperation including development cooperation. The participation of the EU in yesterday’s High level meeting on disability and development reflects the importance we give to this issue.
The constructive dialogue held in August 2015 with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the resulting Concluding Observations reinforced our commitment for the full implementation of the CRPD in the EU. Together with Belgium, Qatar and Mexico, we will organise a side event today to contribute to the reflection on the reporting cycle of the Convention.
Work is being undertaken to implement the three recommendations to be followed by the EU within one year. The European Commission adopted in December 2015 a legislative proposal, the European Accessibility Act, which contains accessibility requirements for a number of products and services which are key for the socio economic participation of persons with disabilities. It also requires the use of the same accessibility requirements when complying with accessibility obligations in public procurement or when spending EU funds to ensure consistency across demand and supply. Also in the area of accessibility the EU agreed last month on another legal measure regulating the accessibility of EU public sector websites providing equal access to public administrations for persons with disabilities. We will be sharing more details of these legal acts in a side event organised together with the European Disability Forum and sponsor by France this afternoon.
Let me also note that the Concluding observations of the Committee provide guidance for reporting on the progress achieved with the implementation of the Convention through the European Disability strategy 2010-2020. The responses by persons with disabilities and their organisations to the public consultation held early 2016 are key in the reflecting process which is going on for reinvigorating the Strategy. Let me share with you that we particularly welcomed the numerous responses received to an accessible questionnaire targeting feedback from persons with intellectual disabilities.
The 9th Conference of States Parties tackles key challenges in the implementation of the Convention. The EU will be inspired by the deliberations of the Conference in its efforts to advance its implementation. Poverty and inequalities are at the heart of a new EU initiative called the European Pillar of Social Rights. This initiative aims at fostering upward social convergence towards labour markets and social protection systems including for persons with disabilities. Both are essential for removing inequalities and ensuring equal participation in economy and society.
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