Valencia, Comunitat Valenciana (E), 17 June 2011
The Assembly of European Regions’ (AER) working group on ‘Equal Opportunities for people with disabilities’ met in Valencia (E) to debate the question of integrating people with disabilities into professional life.
Advances in the rights of people with disabilities
Today, more than 80 million people with disabilities across the European Union – approximately 15% of the total population – face a number of obstacles in their daily lives, including discrimination in the work place. “We are fortunate because our generation has seen the most important breakthroughs for people with disabilities,” said Joaquin Martinez, Regional Vice-Minister for Personal Autonomy and Dependence, referring to both the UN Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities, recently ratified by the EU, and the EU Disabilities Strategy 2010-2020.
“The actions planned in the framework of the new European strategy focus primarily on assuring that people with disabilities can freely access of goods and services. Additionally, the strategy seeks to improve the participation of people with disabilities and their families’ so that they may exercise all of their rights as citizens of the EU, guarantee access to EU subsidies and encourage governments to strive to eliminate obstacles to their full inclusion,” added the MEP member of the Disability Intergroup of the EP, Rosa Estaràs.
The European regions implement the UN Convention
Regions acknowledge the importance of access to employment as a key guarantee of autonomy and fundamental rights for people with disabilities and a fulfilment of the objectives of the UN Convention and the EU Strategy. To ensure that disability is not an obstacle to employment, the Region Poitou-Charentes (F) for example has instituted an active policy of recruitment, awareness-raising, and adaptation of job positions to help people stay employed. Actions under this policy range from training the region’s staff on disability issues to awarding entrepreneurship funds to people with disabilities wishing to start up their own businesses.
“AER is a great way to open up our minds, stimulate exchange and innovation among the regions and help us implement the rights and obligations that the UN Convention has created for people with disabilities.” concluded Christina Wahrolin, County Councillor from Värmland (S).
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