Due to the own-initiative report on which the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament is working on, led by MEP Helga Stevens, a conference was held on February 17th, in which the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD) was discussed and different members of the Committee were invited to expose their opinions.
Diane Kingston, member of the CRPD Committee exposed the importance of the EU to follow the Convention and deal with more urgent issues, such as unemployment for people with disabilities, social protection for the unemployed, freedom of movement. She also explained the function of the Committee and stressed the importance of the participation of the European Parliament, which it is only possible either in the implementation process or the monitoring process, but not in both.
Emily O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman, stated the importance that the finals conclusions of the CRPD Committee to the EU do not finish and that the wish list, became an adequate list of the actions that will be implemented. O’Reilly also showed by examples how she helps EU citizens with their potential barriers with institutions and actions of EU. It has become clear that the European Ombudsman’s website is not available to everyone, but they are currently working on it.
Other members of the commission continued with their presentations, such as the Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Michael O’Flaherty, who talked about their work in planning auditions and meetings on the CRPD and also stressed the importance that DPOs get involved in order to guarantee the correct implementation of the Convention, and the Regional representative in Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Jan Jarab, that talked about the responsibilities of the EU institutions with respect to legislation and financial instruments, as well as leadership in general for policy work in the EU.
Finally, the Vice President of the European Disability Forum (EDF), Gunta Anca, spoke about the European Accessibility Law and stressed the importance of reviewing the European Disability Strategy.
He also highlighted that people with disabilities always participate in the implementation process of the Convention, such as EDF and other OPD.After the presentations, there was a great debate by several MEPs who were interested in the issue and pressed for the importance of guaranteeing an adequate implementation of the CRPD at EU. Finally, Helga Stevens concluded the meeting by thanking the Secretariat of the Committee for its efforts to ensure that the meeting was accessible, as for example, by providing an interpretation of international signs. She also thanked all the deputies for their active participation during the meeting.