A new regulation on structural and investment funds also came into force in the EU. If applied fully, this regulation can help greater social inclusion of those most vulnerable to discrimination and unequal treatment. This includes persons with disabilities, who would stand to gain most from the full and correct implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the only core international human rights convention to which the EU itself has acceded. Evidence from 2014 shows that the cross-cutting principles of equality and non-discrimination set out in Articles 3 and 5 of the convention are increasingly driving implementation of the CRPD by both the EU and its Member States.
- In 2014, six years after it was first proposed, the Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation has still not been adopted.
- For the EU to fulfil its obligation to become a truly inclusive society, EU institutions and Member States should explore every means at their disposal to ensure the adoption of the proposed equal treatment directive.
- Member States allocated around 10% of the overall budget available under ESIF to promote social inclusion, and to combat poverty and any discrimination during the programming period 2014–2020.
- EU Member States should ensure that ESIF funds are invested in ways compliant with fundamental rights, leading to sustainable and tangible results with respect to social inclusion. Increased cooperation and coordination of activities between the European Commission, EU bodies and Member States will be needed to assist Member States in meeting their objectives in this field.
- This is reflected in steps taken by Member States to meet the five general ex ante conditionalities relating to anti-discrimination and disability before the deadline of 31 December 2016.
- Member States are encouraged to continue efforts to meet these conditionalities fully, while engaging relevant public bodies and civil society organisations in committees set up to monitor the disbursement of funds under ESIF, thereby increasing transparency and accountability.
- These are set out in Article 3 of the CRPD, on general principles, and Article 5, on equality and non-discrimination.
- Member States should ensure that they incorporate the principles of equality and non-discrimination when adapting their legal frameworks in line with the human rights-based approach to disability which underpins the convention. All reforms should take into account the needs of persons with different types of impairments.
- Those Member States that have not yet designated these bodies should take steps to establish them as soon as possible. All Member States should ensure that Article 33 CRPD bodies have sufficient financial and human resources to carry out their functions, and that disabled persons organisations (DPOs) participate fully in the monitoring process.