A strong EU framework is needed to help make fundamental rights a reality for people with disabilities

A clear legal basis outlining roles and responsibilities would help guide the EU’s framework to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the UN’s Disability Convention, according to FRA’s latest Opinion.

The EU ratified the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010. This was the first international human rights treaty ever signed by the EU. The convention requires the EU to establish a framework to promote the convention, protect the rights of individuals and monitor the convention’s implementation.

The European Parliament asked FRA for its advice on what the EU CRPD framework needs to do to comply with its obligations under the Convention. This applies to all matters of EU competence such as its laws and policies as well as to the administration of all EU bodies when it comes to staffing and working conditions, etc. This led to FRA’s Opinion on requirements under Article 33 (2) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within the EU context.

The EU’s ground-breaking signature of an international human rights treaty sets a precedent. It can borrow from how national frameworks are set up and function but must pioneer the regional approach. Similar to the national counterparts, the EU framework contains a human rights body, FRA, which currently chairs this framework. Other members include the European Parliament, the European Ombudsman, and the European Disability Forum to represent the views of people with disabilities. Responding to recommendations made by the CRPD Committee, the European Commission withdrew from the Framework, thereby increasing the Framework’s independence.

FRA’s opinion suggests formally defining the exact roles and responsibilities in a legally binding act. This would ensure transparency and provide clarity for all members. Each member would know what they need to do individually, and collectively with the other members, to achieve their common goal of supporting the EU in making the fundamental rights of people with disabilities a reality. The legal act should also clarify how coordination and cooperation should work to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the framework’s efforts to improve the EU’s implementation of the convention.

FRA’s assessment will support the EU’s follow-up to its report following the concluding observations from the UN’s CRPD Committee, the treaty monitoring body for the convention, published on 2 October 2015.

FRA issues Opinions on specific thematic topics, following requests for advice from the European Parliament, the EU Council or the European Commission. These Opinions are part of the agency's fundamental rights assistance and expertise that it provides to EU institutions and Member States.

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