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We would like to thank all the panellists for their interesting interventions. We are pleased to take the floor in this panel on habilitation and rehabilitation services and programmes.
We thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its report on Habilitation and Rehabilitation under article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We believe that the report gives useful guidance on a human rights based-approach and a very good overview of the multifaceted links and perspectives of states obligations’ to provide effective habilitation and rehabilitation services enabling persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full psychical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life.
But the report also points to some challenges that need to be addressed. As a party to the UN CRPD, the EU actions are guided by the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which aims at empowering persons with disabilities to enjoy their full rights and benefit from participating in society on an equal basis with others.
The 2017 progress report on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy showed that considerable results have been achieved in a number of areas. But we are also aware that many areas are best described as being “work in progress”, all of which are confirmed by the surveys and monitoring work conducted by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the findings of Eurostat.
Some of you who participated in the side event we organised the other day together with China will have learned that the EU is almost ready to adopt the European Disability Act. Although the Act is more closely related to the Article 9 of the CRPD on Accessibility, it also impacts on the habilitation and rehabilitation services. The European Accessibility Act aims at improving the functioning of the internal market for certain accessible products and services by removing barriers created by divergent legislation. This will facilitate the work of companies and will bring benefits for persons with disabilities in the EU. Some of these products and services are potentially important in the education and employment area.
While we continue our work to fulfil our obligations within the EU, we will also be active in our external action as foreseen by the European Disability Strategy in line with our obligations under the CRPD. We are therefore determined to make the EU’s development cooperation disability-inclusive . The new Consensus on Development commits to vigorously promote the rights of persons with disabilities and to ensure their full inclusion and participation in the labour market.
The EU is also a major donor supporting the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities worldwide. Since 2010, we have funded more than 450 disability-specific projects in 100 countries, mostly in partnership with civil society.
The report provides us with a number of recommendations for scaling up efforts for habilitation and rehabilitation. Given the need for comprehensive policy and legislative changes and for investment and funding, it is clear that ensuring adequate habilitation and rehabilitation cannot happen in a vacuum but will have to take place in the overall context of the 2030 Agenda.
Given the complexity of measures for ensuring access to habilitation and rehabilitation, could you further elaborate on the most urgent and important steps that need to be taken by States?