Wednesday

20th Sep 2017

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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

Bank agency shuns EU invitations

The EU's banking agency is not visiting cities that want to host the agency post-Brexit "to ensure objectivity". The medicines agency has no such qualms.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary set for fresh campaign against public enemy Soros
  2. Iceland's PM leads in polls ahead of October elections
  3. Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds cancel referendum
  4. Ireland to hold referendum on ownership of water
  5. Report: May to offer €20bn as Brexit bill in Florence speech
  6. Merkel poised to win election despite CDU dip in polls
  7. EU unveils cyber security ideas
  8. EU must do more to cut emissions, auditors say

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  2. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  3. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  6. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  7. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  8. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  9. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  10. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  11. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  12. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package