Getting our European Act together! Presentations from event

DFI European Network of Interest Seminar 

Monday, 20th January, 2014 from 9:30 to 13:00, in DFI, Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane , Dublin 8.

Following our first DFI European Network meeting which took place in April 2013, DFI hosted an event on Monday, 20th January, 2014, entitled "Getting our European Act together! "

Marian Harkin, member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Vice-President of its Disability Intergroup, was in attendance at this seminar. 

The event, ‘Getting Our European Act Together!”, was designed to establish and deepen European linkages in the disability sector and to develop a cohesive voice and strategy on Europe by exchanging information, experience and ideas.  DFI’s European Network of Interest is a collection of people representing organisations who are interested in the European dimension to their work.

In his opening remarks, John Dolan, Chief Executive of DFI, highlighted the importance of recognising the importance of the European Union (EU) as well as the challenges it poses, such as the lack of uniformity and the differences in services and supports across member states.  Pointing to the National Disability Strategy (NDS), the European Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), he noted that these documents not only interlink but represent a potential “trinity of support” for the disability movement.

Irene Bertana, Policy Officer with the European Association of Service Providers (EASPD), stood as guest speaker on the day, presenting on various aspects of EU policy, such as the EU2020 Strategy and the work progressing towards the EU Accessibility Act, as well as EU funding opportunities. The Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 introduces a new period of funding programmes such as Erasmus+, Employment and Social Innovation (EASI), Horizon 2020, Europe for Citizens 2014-2020, and the European Social Fund. She believes the disability sector needs to open up and move away from the idea of specialisation in terms of disabilities, as well as the provision of services and supports.

Ms Bertana later discussed the European Semester, a process of budgetary and policy coordination between the European Commission and member states.  Although in place since 2010, the country’s exit from the Troika bailout now presents Ireland with further scope for participation and offers the disability movement the opportunity to place its perspective firmly on the agenda. The importance of the Semester was reinforced by Marian Harkin in an impromptu update of the latest European Parliament news and activities in relation to disability.  Ms Harkin also gave some valuable advice on how to communicate the disability perspective and how to effectively capitalise on the structures already in place.

Members of the European Network of Independent Living (ENIL), the European Federation of Neurological Associations, the European Polio Union, Eurocarers and the European Movement in Ireland were also among those present at the event, joined by representatives from Inclusion Ireland, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Epilepsy Ireland, among others.

‘Getting Our European Act Together’ and the formation of this European Network Interest represent an attempt to bring people together to create a space to share and support one another in strengthening the disability agenda in Europe. Our current focus is the Local and European Election Campaign.  DFI has produced a manifesto and circulated this to all Irish MEP’s.  As the election draws nearer we will be intensifying the campaign.  You can keep up to date via our website and there will be local events that you can link in with.  Likewise, please let us know of any event that you or your organisation is planning.

For more information on DFI’s European Election campaign, please visit: http://www.disability-federation.ie/index.php?uniqueID=10807

Please see below links to presentations given at the seminar by guest speaker, Irene Bertana, Policy Officer with the European Association of Service Providers (EASPD).

If you have any queries or would like further information please contact Marian Brosnan, International and European Affairs Assistant, Ph: 01 7080109, emaiil: marianbrosnan@disability-federation.ie

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