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“The UN disability convention has been a catalyst for change for people with disabilities across the EU,” said FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum, marking the European Day of People with Disabilities on 3 December. “Many Member States are taking positive steps to promote and protect the legal rights of people with disabilities. These are the steps that can begin to break down barriers. However, what we still need to see is real change on the ground to ensure people with disabilities can enjoy their rights in practice.

To date, 25 EU Member States and the EU have ratified the CRPD. This landmark convention has helped reshape the concept of disability. People with disabilities are no longer viewed as objects of charity but rather as full and equal members of society, and as holders of fundamental rights on an equal basis with others. This has also had profound implications for law and policy at the EU and national levels, driving wide-ranging legal reforms in many Member States as they strive to bring their national laws and policies in line with what is required under the CRPD.

Such developments are helping to build a barrier-free Europe for millions of people with disabilities in the EU today. They will ultimately help to eliminate the obstacles that prevent people with disabilities from unleashing their potential and from contributing fully to society.

FRA research as shown that a particular barrier faced by many people with disabilities is the lack of choice about where and with whom to live and the absence of adequate personal support. FRA’s current project aims to address this challenge by providing evidence-based advice on how to achieve the transition from institutional to community-based support for people with disabilities. Preliminary findings from the first phase of the project should be available next autumn.