Vilnius, 16-17 November 2013 | The European Disability Forum met this weekend in Vilnius, Lithuania, gathering together representatives of its member organisations, as well as representatives of the Lithuanian Republic and European institutions. On the first day of the Board meeting, a conference took place focusing on: 'Disability and sustainable development. A perspective from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities'.
Opening the conference, Dovilé Juodkaité, President of the Lithuanian Forum for the Disabled welcomed this event as the only one focusing on the rights of persons with disabilities within the three pillars: social, economic and environmental of sustainable development and in the frame of the programme of the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU.
EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, underlined the importance of inclusive development. “It gets more and more understandable that inclusive development cannot be considered as such, unless it takes into account and on board persons with disabilities. Development that does not include persons with disabilities is a direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Development should affect every citizen in society without any exclusion or discrimination”, said Yannis Vardakastanis.
Speaking also at the opening of the conference, the Lithuanian Minister of Social Security and Labour, Algimanta Pabedinskiene, stressed the Lithuanian Presidency’s commitment to a sustainable growth for Europe with the inclusion and active participation of persons with disabilities.
“Persons with disabilities still face social exclusion. In order to avoid that, we have to provide them with proper and adequate provisions, so that they become equal citizens in our societies with access to all spheres of life. When we talk about Millennium Development Goals, we have to include persons with disabilities with particular attention to women with disabilities. Lithuania is doing its very best to implement the UN CRPD fully. Despite the crisis, we have to find new ways to fight and work towards the integration of persons with disabilities. We have to use the structural funds of the EU in an efficient manner”, stressed Algimanta Pabedinskiene.
> WE ARE ACTIVE CITIZENS
In the frame of 2013 European Year of Citizens, EDF Board adopted a statement calling onthe European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament and all EU Member States to involve persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in all decision making processes at all levels.
> HOW MUCH MORE BEFORE A EUROPEAN ACCESSIBILITY ACT?
During its Board meeting, the disability movement also adopted a resolution on the European Accessibility Act pushing among others for:
- a strong binding legislation with a holistic and broad approach to cover as many services and goods as possible;
- links with international and EU standards as tools to guarantee accessibility;
- a proposal that will be future proof by focusing on areas of action;
- the need to cover both goods and services and their built environment aspects.
EDF calls on the European Commission to live up to its commitmentto 80 million citizens with disabilities and to present its legislative proposal of the Act before the end of the current term of the European Parliament.
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