More comprehensive, more ambitious and designed for the long term.

SW – 03/2020

This is what the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs wants to see in the new European Disability Strategy  for the period post-2020. European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) rapporteur Ioannis Vardakastanis also called for a more ambitious agenda than the current one at a public hearing on ‘Shaping the EU agenda for disability rights 2020 – 2030’ in February 2020.

In its motion for a resolution from 2 March 2020, the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Commission to put forward an EU strategy that meets these criteria. It should contain ambitious, clear and measurable targets, as well as a list of actions in various areas, including participation, free movement and independence living, accessibility, employment and training. The actions should have a clear timeframe and allocated resources.

Labour market inclusion

In light of the slow progress towards inclusive labour markets (see article Jan 2020), the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) submitted comments as part of the Commission’s consultation on the evaluation of the current EU strategy. In its comments, the DGUV highlighted accessibility, provision of EU funds, habilitation and rehabilitation, participation in political and public life, and employment as important issues for the future strategy.

The resolution calls on the Commission to ensure that the new EU strategy promotes guaranteed access to employment, vocational training, inclusive education and affordable high-quality healthcare services. It should ensure that adequate accommodation is made available in the workplace and that discrimination regarding remuneration is eliminated. Persons with disabilities should be paid at the same level as workers without disabilities.

The Member States are also being called upon to take action. They are called upon to further develop and better implement measures to promote the participation of people with disabilities in the labour market. People with disabilities working in sheltered workshops should be recognised as workers within the meaning of the law and have the same right to social protection.

Access to social protection

The resolution reiterates the right of people with disabilities to an adequate standard of living and social protection. It calls on the Member States to introduce a minimum level of social protection for people with disabilities so that an adequate standard of living is guaranteed. The Commission is being urged to ensure that the new strategy includes actions to promote inclusive social protection systems throughout the EU. In order to ensure access to social support services across the EU, the Commission and Council should build on the Council recommendation on access to social protection and the proposal for a regulation on the coordination of social security systems.

The Committee unanimously adopted the motion for a resolution at its meeting on 20 February 2020. The vote in the European Parliament was scheduled for 11 March 2020. However, the plenary session was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Harmonisation of national requirements placed on employers

The EESC already adopted its own-initiative opinion in December 2019, highlighting that the employment rate of people with disabilities (48.1%) is disproportionately low compared to that of people without disabilities (73.9%). The employment rate of women with disabilities is significantly lower still. The EESC has therefore called for the Commission to propose measures to harmonise employers’ obligations and the support governments must provide to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided for workers with disabilities.


The Commission is expected to complete its evaluation of the current strategy in July 2020. After further consultation, the Commission is expected to publish a Communication on the new strategy in the first quarter of 2021.