New ten-year EU strategy on the rights of people with disabilities.

SW – 03/2021

More than 87 million people with disabilities live in the EU. With its new EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021 - 2030, presented on March 3, 2021, the EC aims to contribute to equal participation and non-discrimination in the accessibility, health and social protection sectors.

Ensuring accessibility

The basic condition for equal and unrestricted participation in social life is accessibility. "Accessible EU" aims to build a knowledge base of information and good practice covering e-accessibility in all sectors, to stimulate policy at national and EU levels and to facilitate the implementing of existing EU legislation.

Exercising rights

The EU Commission, together with the member states, would like to support people with disabilities in exercising their right to freedom of movement, amongst other things. Building on a pilot project carried out in eight countries, it will propose to introduce a European disability ID by the end of 2023, which will be recognised in all member states.

Accessing quality and sustainable employment

Independent living and participating in society include both economic independence and social inclusion, which includes participation in the labour market and access to skills that enable this. Next year, the EU Commission will present a package to improve labour market opportunities for people with disabilities. The aim is to support member states in implementing the relevant employment guidelines as part of the European semesters.

The exchange of experience will be promoted along with a view to strengthening employment and integration services, creating recruitment prospects, developing quality jobs in protected employment and in the open labour market as well as ensuring decent working conditions, health and safety at work and vocational rehabilitation programmes.

Member states are invited to set targets by 2024 to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities and to reduce the employment gap between people with and without disabilities (see reports 09/2020 and 05/2020).

The European Parliament is more ambitious in its resolution of March 10, 2021 about implementing equal treatment in employment and occupation, taking into account the UN convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. MEPs have called for measures with binding targets and measurable objectives, deadlines and monitoring of the full implementation of the convention. Fines collected should be reinvested for inclusion purposes.

Social protection and healthcare

Despite progress made, member states are still called upon to close gaps in social protection for people with disabilities and to reduce inequalities, e.g. by compensating for the additional costs associated with disability. There is still a need for healthcare action as people are four times more likely to report an unmet healthcare need and medical care is often too expensive, too far away or not accessible.

In 2022, the EU Commission plans to launch a study on social protection and services for people with disabilities in order to identify best practices in relation to retirement income, health insurance, cash benefits, benefits in kind and additional costs due to disability. Reforms of the social protection and disability classification framework will continue to be supported, including those through the Technical Assistance Instrument.


The EU Commission will establish a Disability Platform in 2021 to replace the existing High Level Group on Disability and support the implementing of this and national strategies. It intends to present a framework for monitoring the implementing of the strategy before the end of 2021. An implementation roadmap should be in place by 2023. Progress is to be assessed in 2024 and targets and measures will be updated as needed. Both the European Parliament in its resolution and the EU Commission call on the member states to abandon their "blockade" with regard to a general directive on the application of the principle of equal treatment beyond employment and occupation.