The economic crisis threatens participation and inclusion of people with disabilities

This year's European Day of Persons with Disabilities conference, on 1-2 December in Brussels, specifically focuses on the effects of the crisis on people with disabilities. It brings together organisations representing people with disabilities and relevant stakeholders to identify best practice solutions to offset the effects of the economic crisis on people with disabilities. On this important European Day, the FRA underlines that it will continue its efforts to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities.

"In times of crisis especially, people need to rally around and help those most in need. In the past, hard times have posed a serious challenge to the protection of fundamental rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, such as people and children with disabilities who face increased risk of poverty, exclusion and discrimination," said FRA Director, Morten Kjærum. "We must make sure that the advances in rights for people with disabilities are not jeopardised by public spending cuts. Collectively the EU needs to ensure that people with disabilities do not pay the price for the economic crisis in reduced support and services."

The FRA will continue to work alongside its partners in the EU institutions and Member States, and with civil society, including disabled persons organisations, to promote the rights of people with disabilities. Preliminary findings from our latest research on the experiences of people with mental health problems and people with intellectual disabilities in nine EU Member States show that they are deprived of some of their basic rights. Significant barriers to their right to independent living and restrictions on their legal capacity remain. FRA's research underlines the need for policy makers to shape the laws and policies that can best guarantee that people with disabilities do not disproportionately suffer the effects of public sector spending cuts. Lower public expenditure on programmes such as independent living services, personal assistance schemes, education and vocational training, and healthcare threaten the participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in their local community.

John Evans from the European Network on Independent Living gave us his views on the economic crisis during a recent meeting of FRA's disability project.