Members' Bulletins

Members’ Bulletin #4 – EU & International Developments [03 April 2015]

Members’ Bulletin 4 European Developments

Members' Area

Equinet Newsbook April 2015

The latest Equinet Newsbook highlights recent Equinet and EU developments on equality, including Equinet’s recent gender equality conference and a particular focus on disability.

Members' Area

European Commission calls for input to its first Annual Colloquium on fundamental rights in the EU

On 1-2 October 2015, First Vice President for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Frans Timmermans, in cooperation with EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, will host the first Annual Colloquium on fundamental rights in the EU.
The European Commission calls for input from stakeholders on the topic of ‘Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe’.

Members' Area

We still need your help: European Directory of Equality Bodies

Equinet members are asked to fill out the Members Directory online form so that we can begin to develop the interactive, comparable, fully accessible, user-friendly Online Directory to inform better users about your work.


Equinet Call for Proposals: The Sanctions Regime in Discrimination Cases and its Effects

Equinet is commissioning a study on the sanctions applied in discrimination cases in Europe and their effects. The study will build on previous research in the field and it will, as a starting point, examine and compare relevant sources of EU and international law and their provisions on sanctions and remedies. This will be complemented by an analysis of trends and good practices in leading case law from international, EU and national courts and national equality bodies. The study will conclude with observations on the effects of the sanctions currently applied in discrimination cases and it will put forward ways in which equality bodies and other actors can contribute to making those sanctions more effective.


Malta adopts ground-breaking gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics law

Maltese parliamentarians have written history by adopting the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC). The law is a major step forward for trans and intersex persons in Malta, and shows the way forward for Europe.


Meeting of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Although they account for some 15% of the world population, persons with disabilities currently still face numerous obstacles to active participation in political, economic, social and cultural life. In order to combat the situation, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on 13 December 2006.

This text, which was adopted with the massive support of disabled people’s organisations (DPO’s), particularly emphasises two major principles:

  • On the one hand, it defines disability as an evolutive and systemic concept: the disability is the product of an interaction between a person with a disability and the obstacles that confront him or her with a non-inclusive society;
  • On the other hand, it introduces a genuine shift in attitude: the disabled person is no longer viewed as a person with a disability who is solely in need of help or charity, but rather a person entitled to rights on an equal basis with others.

Another novelty of the UNCRPD is that its Article 33(2) requires all State Parties to appoint independent mechanisms for the promotion, protection and monitoring of the UNCRPD’s implementation. Many Equinet member equality bodies are appointed as independent mechanisms under this provision.

European Union engagement

The UNCRPD is the first human rights treaty to which the European Union (EU) has become a party. In June 2014, the European Commission published its Initial Report on how the EU is giving effect to its obligations under this UN Convention to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

This Committee, which is meeting from 25 March to 17 April in Geneva, is a body consisting of eighteen independent experts who review progress in the field of disability rights in States that have ratified the Convention. On the basis of State reports submitted by governments, as well as information from other sources such as organizations of disabled persons, the Committee assesses a State’s (or in this case the EU’s) performance and issues concluding observations.

On 2 April, they are scheduled to meet with civil society organisations to identify how the European Union implements the UNCRPD. The organisations attending today include European organisations such as the European Disability Forum, the European Network on Independent Living, and the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities. Equinet’s Belgian member, the Belgian Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities, will also participate at the meeting.


Belgium signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 30 March 2007 and ratified it on 2 July 2009. It came into force at the national level on 1 August 2009. Since 2011, the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (now the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities), has been entrusted the mandate of the independent mechanism, which is responsible for promoting, protecting and monitoring the implementation of the Convention according to Article 33 §2 of the Convention. Today, they bring the list of issues relating to the European Union report in the context of the implementation of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, based on the Belgian (and other equality bodies’) experience.

Civil Society Organisations

For a list of other documents due to be presented by international organisations, please see the UN CRPD page.

Main concerns about the implementation of the CRPD by the EU according to EDF

  • EU does not have a specific strategy aimed at the overall implementation of the UN CRPD by all EU institutions and Member States. We call for the development of a European Disability Pact to be included in the EU’s main economic strategy and to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in this strategy.
  • To date there has been no campaign either in the EU or within EU institutions to raise awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities and the UN CRPD. We call for the EU to launch an accessible, visible, well-organised and resourced public campaign to raise awareness on disability rights.
  • There is no clearly structured or documented process for the consultation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations. We call for the EU to develop a code of conduct for consultation and involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative all EU decision making processes.
  • Today, the focal point in the EU lacks the necessary resources and the coordinating mandate to mainstream the UN CRPD in all EU policy levels. In addition, the monitoring mechanism lacks independence and funding. We call for an effective focal point within the EU institutions on the implementation of the Convention and for the independence and allocation of resources for the EU monitoring Framework.
  • Persons with disabilities need freedom of movement! We call for the EU to publish and swiftly adopt the European Accessibility Act covering a maximum of policy areas including transport, built environment, emergency services, ICTs etc.
  • Persons with disabilities face discrimination in all areas of life! We call for the EU to swiftly adopt the Proposed Equal Treatment Directive and to ensure protection against discrimination for all persons with disabilities in line with the Convention in the areas of education, social protection, health and access to goods and services.
  • Some Member States have used EU Funds to maintain and promote a system of institutional care. We call for the EU Funds to fund services and support which facilitate the right to live independently in the community by all persons with disabilities.
  • Although the EU is the largest donor in the field of international cooperation, it has not yet undertaken all appropriate measures to enhance EU disability-inclusive development policies and programmes. We call for the adoption of an EU Disability and Development Policy and Action Plan.
  • Persons with disabilities all over the EU are deprived of their legal capacity, and they are put against their will in institutions, forced to undergo treatment and therefore live in inhuman situations. We call upon the EU to issue guidelines to the member states to ensure that persons with disabilities receive support to exercise their legal capacity, and that compulsory psychiatric detention and/or treatment based on disability is not permitted.
  • Women and children with disabilities face multiple discrimination in the EU today. We call upon the EU to fight against all forms of discrimination.
External publications

EDF Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On 18 March 2015, the European Disability Forum (EDF) submitted its Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in Europe to the United Nations Committee.

The purpose of the UN Alternative Report is to inform the UN Committee about how the UNCRPD has been implemented by the European Union and its institutions, from the perspective of 80 million Europeans with Disabilities. This report based its analysis on the gaps in the EU ‘Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the European Union’ of 5 June 2014 (hereafter: the EU CRPD Report) and seeks to complement it where relevant with information received by EDF members and partner organisations.

EDF’s report is divided into two parts: the first part examines the implementation of the UN CRPD in the EU’s legislative and policy work in general and the second part considers the internal implementation of the CRPD by the EU as a public administration. For each article, the report lists the main concerns and provides recommendations to improve implementation of the CRPD in the EU.


EDF Alternative Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities