“The coronavirus pandemic is impacting every country and region of the world and every aspect of our lives. The pandemic and its socio-economic consequences are having a disproportionate impact on the rights of persons with disabilities such as in terms of equal access to health care, support services, and education.
The Joint statement on Disability-inclusive response to COVID-19 –Towards a better future for all, is an important demonstration of our commitment to disability-inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery measures. As we underline in the Joint Statement, the protection of the rights and needs of persons with disabilities need to be placed at the centre of our efforts.
We support the efforts undertaken by the UN Secretary General and reaffirm our commitment to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the EU is party.
The global response to the coronavirus must uphold human rights of all without discrimination of any kind. No one should be left behind, and no human right ignored. The European Union is committed to play its part.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation both in Europe as well as globally. In these challenging times, more than ever, we need to be particularly attentive to the most vulnerable in our society, including persons with disabilities. Social isolation measures, the risk of infection for both care professionals and persons with disabilities, discriminatory treatment in access to health care, difficulties in obtaining social services and care, and lack of accessible information are only some of the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.
The Commission has put in place a number of measures to support EU Member States, includinga COVID-19 Response Investment Initiative. The Commission has also mobilised the European Social Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived to provide support for the most vulnerable, such as people with disabilities or elderly persons. In addition, the Commission is meeting weekly with EU Health Ministers to share information and find common solutions to reduce the stress on health and social systems.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the first international, legally binding instrument setting minimum standards for rights of people with disabilities, and the first human rights convention to which the EU has become a party. For the EU, the convention entered into force on 22 January 2011 and all EU Member States have signed and ratified the convention. The Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli was tasked by President von der Leyen to “lead on the EU's implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability […] and to work closely with all Commissioners to pursue this aim, including on external affairs.”
The new, strengthened European Disability Strategy that underpins the implementation of the UN Convention is currently under preparation. It will take into account the challenges arising from the COVID-19 crisis and its economic and social consequences.
For more information
United Nations Secretary General policy brief on ‘Disability-inclusive response to COVID-19'