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International Day for Persons with Disabilities: GUE/NGL calls for greater EU commitment


03 Dec 2015


Health & Consumers
Social Europe & Jobs
Public Affairs

An estimated one billion people across the world live with a disability and often face huge problems and challenges in the most basic aspects of their day-to-day lives as well as in housing, transportation, employment and education, and their social and political participation.

To promote awareness and mobilise support, the UN declared 3rd December as International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) in 1992. The theme this year is "Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities."

To mark the occasion, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer, said: "We live in a European Union (EU) which grants tax exemptions to large companies, cuts public expenditure and plunges millions of citizens into poverty. This clearly contradicts the commitment the EU made with its ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

"People with disabilities have been hit hard by austerity measures and face increasing marginalisation. We continue to urge the EU to meet its commitments and to stand up for the full participation of persons with disabilities in all areas of life."

For GUE/NGL MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis, European Parliament Vice-President and Chair of the High-Level Group on Equality and Diversity: "The European Parliament, and in particular the High-Level Group on Equality and Diversity that I have the honour to preside, is committed to the full inclusion of persons with a disability and to becoming a place that is fully accessible for everybody."

He continued: "Persons with disabilities are still disadvantaged in the labour market and many of them face difficulties finding suitable employment. The EP allows access to employment without any discrimination, and is committed to adapting the working environment to the special needs of persons with a disability," he said.

"I would urge all member states to ensure, as we do in Parliament, that people with disabilities are given every possible chance of inclusion at all levels of society and to draw up plans that include specific objectives and concrete measures to guarantee full equality of opportunity for persons with disabilities. Protecting the most vulnerable in our societies such as persons with disabilities should be a top priority for all,"

GUE/NGL MEP Kostadinka Kuneva, co-chair of the EP's Intergroup on Disability, said: "In the EU of austerity, the rights of the disabled are in danger. In Greece, many disabled people live in conditions of extreme poverty, and unemployment has reached an unprecedented rate of 90% in some categories, for example, the blind."

She continued: "The European Parliament, as the only directly elected body, needs to assure three fundamental rights for the disabled: equal opportunities for full participation in society and the labour market, implementation of the UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and robust services for independent living. The way we treat people with disabilities is a clear indicator of the existence or not of what we call a 'Social Europe'."


GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75

European United Left / Nordic Green Left

European Parliamentary Group