European Year of People with Disabilities – next steps?

A Eurobarometer survey has found that the awareness-raising campaing of the EU’s disability campaign was a success – but there is still much to be done.

A Eurobarometer survey, commissioned by the EU's executive arm, has found that one-third of Europeans asked had been aware of the European Year of People with Disabilities (2003) by September 2003. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents thought the European Year had contributed to informing society about the difficulties people with disabilities face in their daily life.

A crucial issue is, however, whether the European Year will be seen as an isolated campaign or if it has managed to give the necessary political impetus for the special needs of disabled people to be integrated in all relevant policy areas.

To promote the economic and social integration of people with disabilities and in order to mainstream disability issues into all relevant Community policies, the Commission issued an Action Plan (2004-2010) (see also

EURACTIV 31 October 2003).

The European Disability Forum (EDF), however, has lamented that a new disability-specific directive was not agreed during the European Year. The EDF has argued that current legislation covering the field of employment only is insufficient as disabled people also face discrimination when it comes to education, transportation, telecommunications and access to services and goods. "Therefore, EDF has requested the European Commission to include in its new Green Book on non-discrimination (...) a new directive that will protect disabled people from discrimination in all fields of life," said an EDF spokeswoman to EURACTIV.

About ten per cent of the EU population (or 37 million people) suffer from some form of disability.


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