European Parliament explores how best to implement the UN disability convention

Michael O'Flaherty speaks at the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, European Parliament
Michael O'Flaherty speaks at the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, European Parliament
The EU, as the first-ever regional body to ratify an international human rights treaty, must implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in its areas of competence.

To guide it, the UN’s CRPD Committee, the body responsible for assessing implementation of the convention, has made a number of recommendations which were discussed during a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs in Brussels on 17 February.

The FRA Director, Michael O’Flaherty, addressed the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and exchanged views with members of the Committee and stakeholders, including the other members of the EU Framework which monitors the EU’s implementation of the CRPD and which FRA now chairs.

He began by underlining the significance of the discussions, given it is the first time a regional body has ratified such a treaty. He also spoke of the powerful signal the EU has sent to the rest of the world by having its implementation of its human rights obligations scrutinised by a UN committee. However, he also warned of the responsibility ratification brings. It is now the EU’s duty to follow up on the UN CRPD Committee’s recommendations to empower people with disabilities and to break down the barriers that have for too long prevented people with disabilities from enjoying their rights.

He welcomed the CRPD Committee’s concluding observations as giving a comprehensive overview of what needs to be done to live up to the promise of the CRPD. Here he cited three examples highlighted by the CRPD Committee: the review of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, independent living and the EU Framework.

The observations will also particularly help the EU Framework and its Members work together around the common goal of ensuring people with disabilities fully enjoy their rights. The feedback from the exchange of views at the Parliament will also feed into the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs’ report on how the EU can take the CRPD Committee’s recommendations forward, a process which FRA as Framework Chair is keen to support.