Saturday

20th Jan 2018

Focus

Impact of austerity measures 'absent' from policy-makers' thinking

  • Steps up from a railway platform - Work on implementing the provisions of the UN convention on disability rights has slowed as countries slash public spending (Photo: Stuart Herbert)

EU politicians will next month be directly confronted with the effects of their budget-slashing policies when disabled people from all over Europe gather in Brussels to voice their anger at having their allowances and services cut.

Around 500 people are expected to make use of the "European Parliament of Disabled People" - an event last held almost ten years ago - on 5 December to tell EU leaders the obligation to protect disability rights remains despite the economic crisis.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Jannis Vardakastanis, European Disability Forum president, said the disability movement is not simply "doing nothing and waiting for the worst to come."

"We have been protesting. We have been fighting in many countries," he said at the recent launch of a study compiling evidence of the effects of austerity measures in the EU.

The survey showed a rise in poverty levels among disabled people, cuts in basic services and a return to negative stereotyping across several countries.

Vardakastanis cited his native Greece - bailed out twice by international lenders and obliged to implement swathes of austerity measures in return - to underline the importance of taking a stand: "I can tell you that because of the fight and the struggle of the Greek disability movement, the disabilities allowances of 200,000 disabled people have been fully protected from any cuts."

What campaigners are looking for is progress on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - a charter laying out basic rights for disabled people such as community living and inclusive education.

The EU signed up to the convention in 2010. The vast majority of member states - except Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands and Malta - have done so too.

But work on implementing its provisions has all but stopped as countries seek to cut down budget deficits.

An issue that Vardakastanis mentioned several times is fear of a return to viewing institutions as a solution to dealing with disabled people while cutting down on costs - a trend mentioned in the study.

"It is difficult to make our dreams our reality but we will never accept to be put back in institutions," he said, adding: "We are going to fight make our dreams a reality even in a period of crisis."

A comment by an EU official underlined how profoundly the social thinking among European leaders needs to be transformed however.

Referring to the impact of austerity measures of people with disabilities, Jose Leandro, an adviser on socio-economic issues to EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: "This issue is completely absent from political discourse on the crisis."

"It is also absent in many cases from the minds of policy-makers who design the measures that are being implemented to fight the crisis," he added.

Disability rights and the crisis

With Europe now in its fifth year of economic crisis, the most vulnerable in society are feeling the effects of governments' reined-in spending. Disabled people, often reliant on both state services and allowances, are among those hardest hit.

Disabled people have a right to live in the community

An estimated 1.2 million people with disabilities in Europe continue to languish in long-stay institutions. Institutionalisation is widely recognised as a systematic and egregious violation of human rights, writes Judith Klein.

EU parliament leaders in disability pledge

European Parliament leaders have committed themselves to better upholding the rights of persons with disabilities, starting with making their political websites more universally accessible ahead of next year's EU elections.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia