European Parliament Election Manifesto 2014

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‘One Europe for All’ Fully Inclusive of People with Disabilities

Disability Federation of Ireland

People with disabilities count and represent over 595,000 Irish citizens, not including family, friends and neighbours.  To reflect this, the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) wants you to include our Top Six Priorities in your European Parliament Election Manifesto 2014

1. Establish a Directorate for Disability Inclusion and appoint a Commissioner Vice President with dedicated responsibility for disability.  2.  Full ratification and monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) across Europe and in Ireland.  3.  Protection for people with disabilities against the negative impact of austerity measures.  4.  Mainstream disability rights across all areas of the European Union (EU) and national policies.  5.  ‘One Europe for All’ that is fully inclusive of people with disabilities.  6. A renewed commitment to a barrier-free Europe

In addition, to demonstrate your commitment to disabled citizens, we ask that you sign up to the following vision statement and incorporate it into your European Parliament Election Campaign 2014:

A vision of Europe where society values every disabled citizen, where the fundamental freedom exists to exercise the rights reflected in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and, more specifically, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). A Europe where people can choose to live the life they want to live, free from discrimination, and where they are permitted to enjoy the full entitlements of being an EU citizen, regardless of disability.


A Europe in Crisis

It is our view that the EU does not simply have a banking and Eurozone crisis, but rather a crisis of identity, ambition and inclusion.  The universal response to the economic downturn in Europe has been the general adoption of austerity measures that have involved drastic spending cuts, coupled with tax increases, to cope with budget deficits.  However, if we continue to erode the fabric of our social and health services, the move to mainstreaming community service provision for people with disabilities will be in jeopardy.  DFI is concerned that our future will be shaped without regard for a new and sustainable social and economic infrastructure.

Fashioning a new vision for Europe

The European Parliament Election is an opportunity to re-confirm our commitment to a social and cohesive Europe.  It should include a debate on how we can transform social service provision in the current climate so that it is user-centered and founded on quality and choice.  Disabled voters count, and DFI wants to see each candidate commit to a vision of Europe which promises a future Europe where people with disabilities simply enjoy the benefits of equal citizenship.

The following are our Six Priorities that we want to see in your European Election Manifesto 2014. 


1.   Establish a Directorate for Disability Inclusion and appoint a Commissioner Vice President with dedicated responsibility for disability.


The European Commission must become drivers of the European Disability Strategy 2020 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  To achieve this, we need to upgrade EU structures to reflect the importance of disability as a crosscutting issue, one that stretches across the life cycle, affecting people of all ages and their families directly and indirectly.

DFI are seeking the support of candidates on the establishment of a Directorate for Disability Inclusion and the position of a Commissioner for disability who would have special competencies to mainstream disability rights across Europe and who would coordinate with other Commissioners to promote disability inclusion.


2.    Full ratification and monitoring of the UNCRPD across Europe and in Ireland.


The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is a human rights instrument which covers civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. It reaffirms that all persons with disabilities must enjoy full human rights and fundamental freedoms[1].


DFI is calling on all political parties to ensure their manifestos make specific reference to the swift ratification and implementation of the Convention in all EU Member States, including Ireland. Elected representatives to the European Parliament and their political parties have a key role to play in supporting the monitoring and the implementation of the UNCRPD, helping to protect the rights of people with disabilities.


3.   Protection for people with disabilities against the negative impact of austerity measures.

Persons with disabilities and their families have been hit disproportionately hard by an economic crisis for which they are not responsible, leading to a decrease in living standards, greater unemployment, cuts in benefits and services, and threats to their social and human rights[2].  People with disabilities need protection against the negative impact of austerity measures. We therefore call on all candidates to reference the commitment the Government has made in the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan[3], and to include concrete measures in their election manifestos, aimed at supporting the inclusion of people with disabilities, in particular in the fields of employment, education, non-discrimination and accessibility. 

In an Irish context, the brunt of austerity has been felt by people with disabilities, where health and community supports have been steadily reduced over the last five years. These independent living supports enable people with disabilities to live in their community.  Furthermore, the government’s exit from the Troika bailout programme does not signal an end to austerity. DFI expects the cumulative impact of austerity to resonate for years to come, in Ireland and across the European Union.


4.   Mainstream disability rights across all areas of the EU and national policies.

It is necessary for disability rights to be included in all aspects of EU and national policy and legislation, including those that are not disability-specific, in order to fully progress the human rights of Europe’s 80 million[4] disabled citizens.

The fundamental need for mainstreaming[5] is recognised in our own National Disability Strategy.  DFI has the expectation that all candidates and political parties will commit to ensuring that disability is mainstreamed in all areas of EU policy by establishing mechanisms to examine the impact of policy on disabled people. This needs to be reflected in the European Parliament Election Manifestos 2014. 


5.   ‘One Europe for All’ that is fully inclusive of people with disabilities.

DFI firmly believes that the European Union must become ‘One Europe for All’, fully inclusive of diversity.  The EU has done a lot to progress the rights of disabled people across Europe and in Ireland.  However, more still needs to be done at European level to combat discrimination, to remove barriers to accessibility and participation and to support the active inclusion of disabled citizens.  It is important that candidates for the European Elections are committed to the progression and enhancement of the rights of disabled citizens at European level, and demonstrate this by use of the legislative processes of Parliament. It will be their responsibility, as Members of the European Parliament (MEP's), to influence the European agenda and represent disabled people at all levels of policy-making.  Furthermore, each MEP can play an active role in the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament.


6.   A renewed commitment to a barrier-free Europe.

Freedom of movement is a fundamental right in the European Union.  However, in order to facilitate the access and use of this right, it is necessary for disabled citizens to have the right to equal opportunities in social protection and social security systems[6].

MEP's have an obligation to ensure that legislative measures within internal market rules are designed and delivered using the principle of “universal design”[7],  and are in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  In addition, MEPs should use their influence to ensure the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 on a ‘Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe’ is put on the mainstream and disability-specific agendas at every opportunity in Parliament.   

In Conclusion

DFI is looking for a commitment to these six priorities in each European Parliament Election Manifesto, to reflect a commitment towards the promotion and protection of the human rights of disabled citizens throughout Europe. Voluntary disability organisations and people with disabilities have expertise regarding their own needs and the gaps in services available to them. They would be happy to work with and advise political parties and candidates on these matters. A refashioned, post-recession, future Europe will become a union of states that is fully inclusive of people with disabilities, as well as a Europe that is set on course to rebuild a shared sense of social cohesion.

[1] The UNCRPD is the first Human Rights Convention that the EU has signed up to, and it was ratified in 2010.  It is a legally binding instrument and includes obligations that require legislative and policy changes at EU and Member States levels.  Ireland is one of the few Member States who has yet to ratify the UNCRPD.

[2] European Disability Forum (EDF) (2014) European Election Manifesto: The Key Priorities of the Disability Movement 

[3] The NDSIP identifies four high level goals: equal citizens, independence and choice, participation and maximising potential, with a set of objectives, actions and performance indicators attached to each goal.

[4] European Commission (2010) European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier Free Europe 

[5] “all mainstream public services, are expected, by Government, to be designed and delivered in ways that include people with disabilities, so that people with disabilities are considered by the public sector to be an integral part of the community they serve”. National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan (2013) page 3

[6] For example, a disabled citizen might be prevented from taking up work in another Member State, participating in volunteering or in deciding to take a holiday if these personal and health supports fail to be transferred across state boundaries.

[7]“Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability”.



The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) represents the interests and the expectations of people with disabilities to be fully included in Irish society. It comprises organisations that represent and support people with disabilities and disabling conditions.

The vision of DFI is that Irish society is fully inclusive of people with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise their full civil, economic, social, and human rights and are enabled to reach their full potential in life.  DFI’s mission is to act as an advocate for the full and equal inclusion of people with disabilities and disabling conditions in all aspects of their lives.

There are over 126 organisations within membership, or as associates, of DFI.  DFI also works with a growing number of organisations and groups around the country that have a significant disability interest, mainly from the statutory and voluntary sectors.  DFI provides information, training and support, networking, advocacy and representation, research and policy development / implementation, and organisation and management development.

DFI works on the basis that disability is a societal issue and so works with Government, and across the social and economic strands and interests of society.

Disability Federation of Ireland, Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8

Tel: 01-4547978, Fax: 01-4547981

Email:  Web:

Union of Voluntary Organisations of People with Disabilities trading as The Disability Federation of Ireland is a company limited by guarantee not having share capital, registered in

Dublin. Registered No. 140948, CHY No 6177


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