Europeisk kort for mennesker med nedsatt funksjonsevne
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsforslaget)
The European Union (EU) is founded on the values of human dignity, freedom, and respect of human rights and committed to combating discrimination, including on the grounds of disability, as set out in the Treaty on European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Charter).
The right of EU citizens to move and reside freely within the European Union is one of the EU’s most cherished achievements, and an important driver of its economy.
The EU and all its Member States are party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The purpose of the UNCRPD is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. The UNCRPD contains obligations for States Parties to recognise the rights of persons with disabilities to liberty of movement on an equal basis with others. States Parties are also requested to take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost.
The European Pillar of Social Rights, proclaimed by the European Parliament, the Council, and the European Commission at Gothenburg on 17 November 2017 1 , provides that everyone, regardless of disability, has the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding access to goods and services available to the public (principle 3). In addition, the European Pillar of Social Rights recognises that persons with disabilities have the right to services that enable them to participate in society (principle 17). The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan refers to significant barriers that persons with disabilities still face, which are further addressed in the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030.
Persons with disabilities whose disability status is assessed and recognised by the competent authorities in a Member State are often granted special conditions or preferential treatment in the access to a variety of services, activities and facilities, including when these are provided not for remuneration in that Member State, and whether provided by public authorities or private operators, on the basis of national or local rules/legal obligations, and often provided on a voluntary basis (in particular by private operators).
The most common special conditions or preferential treatment are offered or provided for with respect to public and private transport, parking spaces, cultural events (e.g. museums), leisure and sport centres or services, amusement parks, tourism. These may consist of free access, reduced tariffs, reduced fees or user charges for toll roads/bridges/tunnels, priority access, personal assistance, support (such as access to braille, audio guides), provision of aids, extended parking or reserved (parking) spaces 2 . With respect to passenger transport services, personal assistants or other persons accompanying or assisting persons with disabilities may travel free of charge or be seated, where practicable next to the person with disabilities or to the person with reduced mobility 3 . Preferential treatment and special conditions are also offered when accessing activities or facilities provided not for remuneration.
However, persons with a recognised disability status in their Member State of residence travelling to another Member State may encounter difficulties with accessing special conditions or preferential treatment offered in or provided for in the Member State they are visiting, often due to a lack of recognition of their disability card or certificate issued by their Member State of residence.
Alongside physical and other barriers in accessing both public and private spaces, high travelling expenses are a key factor discouraging many persons with disabilities from travelling 4 , because they have also specific needs which make their travel costs higher than for persons without disabilities 5 . The Eurostat survey on persons not participating in tourism confirms for the general population that financial reasons are a key argument for not travelling, indicating that 44.83% of the total population did not participate in tourism “for financial reasons” in 2019 6 . Persons with disabilities have a higher poverty risk than persons without disabilities. At EU level, about 21.1% of persons with disabilities aged 16 and over faced a risk of poverty in 2021, compared with 14.9 % of persons without disabilities. The percentage for all persons aged 16 and over was 16.4 %.
Having to deal with legal uncertainty and potential additional costs may impair the possibilities of persons with disabilities to exercise their free movement rights fully and effectively.
Furthermore, for many persons with disabilities, private car transport is the best or only option for getting around independently. The possibility to park as close to their destination as possible and the availability of reserved or extended parking facilities for persons with disabilities is key in supporting their autonomy and facilitates the exercise of free movement rights. The EU parking card for persons with disabilities was created by means of a Council Recommendation establishing a standardised, common EU model/format in 1998 7 and is one of the most visible and important achievements of EU disability policy. It is widely used by all the Member States. However, despite this, cardholders are facing difficulties when using the standardised, EU model parking card for persons with disabilities, such as uncertainties about the rights granted and limited recognition of the card when travelling to other Member States, as well as fines being imposed even when showing the EU parking card or when it is displayed. In addition, national differences in the format and design as well as implementation of the EU parking card for persons with disabilities hamper its use, increase (legal) uncertainty, and give rise to forgery risks or fraudulent actions, as well as enforcement issues 8 .
Therefore, this initiative establishes the framework, rules, and common conditions, including a common standardised model, for a European Disability Card as proof of a recognised disability status and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities, as proof of their recognised right to parking conditions and facilities reserved for persons with disabilities (“parking rights”). The objective of the initiative is to support the access on equal terms and conditions in all Member States for holders of the European Disability Card or European Parking Card for persons with disabilities to special conditions or preferential treatment with respect to services, activities and facilities, including when provided not for remuneration, and respectively parking conditions and facilities.
Mutual recognition of the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities should facilitate and guarantee the exercise by persons with disabilities, when travelling to or visiting another Member State, of their rights to receive and benefit from special conditions and/or preferential treatment offered by private operators or public authorities to access services, activities and facilities, including when provided not for remuneration, as well as access to parking conditions and facilities reserved for persons with disabilities, without discrimination on grounds of nationality or place of residence, on equal terms and conditions as those provided for on the basis of national certificates, disability cards or other formal documents recognising their disability status issued by the competent authorities in the host country.
Establishing a framework of rules and common conditions for both the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities will help ensure a more effective and inclusive participation and inclusion in society of persons with disabilities.
The proposal to create a European Disability Card is one of the flagship initiatives of the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 9 :
“The Commission will propose creating a European Disability Card by end of 2023 with a view to be recognised in all Member States. It will build on the experience of the ongoing EU Disability Card pilot project in eight Member States and upon the European parking card for persons with disabilities.”
The intention to table a proposal on the European Disability Card was also set out in the Communication on the Conference on the Future of Europe – Putting Vision into Concrete Action 10 and referred to by President von der Leyen in the context of her 2022 State of the Union address 11 . The initiative is part of the Commission Work Programme 2023 – A Union standing firm and united 12 .
The European Parliament called for the Card in three resolutions. In its Resolution of 18 June 2020 on the European Disability Strategy post-2020 13 , it asked the Commission to expand the existing pilot project of the EU Disability Card and to ensure that the EU parking card for people with disabilities is fully observed in all Member States. The European Parliament welcomed the plan to present an initiative on the European Disability Card to be recognised in all Member States, with a view to scaling up the pilot projects for the EU Disability Card and the EU model parking card for persons with disabilities in its Resolution of 7 October 2021 on the protection of persons with disabilities through petitions 14 . It advocated in its Resolution of 13 December 2022 towards equal rights for persons with disabilities 15 , for a legally binding and ambitious initiative, covering a range of different areas beyond culture, leisure and sport.
The European Economic and Social Committee also adopted a supportive exploratory Opinion 16 with respect to the European Disability Card, acknowledging with respect to the EU Parking Card the importance of updating the legislation harmonising the characteristics, issuing procedures and functioning of it.