Member States' use of Structural Funds risks violating EU law and UN convention on disability
BUDAPEST, Hungary, Oct. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report by the Open Society Foundations details the role of the European Commission in ensuring that Member States do not spend EU Structural Funds to confine people with disabilities to long-stay institutions.
"Laws and procedures around Structural Funds may be complicated, but the reality is simple," said Judith Klein, director of the Mental Health Initiative of the Open Society Foundations. "These investments must protect the right of every EU citizen to live in the community"
The report, Community Not Confinement: the Role of the European Union in Promoting and Protecting the Right of People with Disabilities to Live in the Community, warns that although Member States have agreed to move away from institutional care, some continue to invest in scaled-down facilities rather than supportive community living. This violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The European Commission has a responsibility to ensure the rights of Europeans with disabilities and the proper direction of EU investments. The report recommends several steps the Commission should take. These include providing clear guidance to Member States that projects selected for the use of Structural Funds must comply with the CRPD; verifying that such work aligns with the CRPD and supports independent living; as well as funding civil society groups to independently monitor Member States' investments and inform the Commission of findings.
"We still have a difficult fight ahead of us in order to help people with disabilities integrate and fulfill their right to independent living," said Daciana Sarbu, member of the European Parliament. "I am determined to keep working together with our social partners to support projects that facilitate the transition from institutional to community-based care. In Romania we have already had fruitful cooperation with the Labour Ministry, and I hope we can continue this work all across Europe."
An event today at the European Parliament sponsored by MEP Sarbu complemented the release of the report. It featured discussion from advocates living with disabilities from countries throughout Europe and representatives from the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.
SOURCE Open Society Foundations