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EU must 'keep the promise' to end discrimination against disabled people

December 3, 2010 12:01 AM
Originally published by Liz Lynne
Liz Lynne with disabled pupils at Trinity School, Hereford.

Liz Lynne MEP with disabled pupils at Trinity School in Hereford. She is calling for EU governments to honour their promises to disabled people.

Lib Dem MEP Liz Lynne says the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today is a timely reminder to the EU Commission and member states to 'keep the promise' to disabled people and end discrimination against them once and for all.

The UN's International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been held every year on December 3 since 1992. The theme of the event today is 'Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond'.

Liz Lynne, Euro MP for the West Midlands region, and First Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, has been a lifelong campaigner for the rights of disabled people

She says this year's event should be a wake up call to EU governments dragging their feet on laws to stop disabled people from discrimination in buying goods and services and the failure by some countries to implement the UN Convention for the Rights of Disabled People.

Speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels, Liz Lynne said: "Disabled people, which make up at least 10 per cent of the population, need and deserve equal access not just to the job market but also to buying goods and accessing services. In some countries the level of discrimination is still appalling.

"The theme of International Day of Persons with Disabilities this year is 'keeping the promise' to mainstream disabled people into the Millennium Goals at the UN.

"This is an important objective, but in my view it is also high time that EU member states keep their promises to disabled people too.

"A number of member states are currently blocking progress on the Equal Treatment Directive.

"This was drawn up by the Commission after the European Parliament adopted my own-initiative report calling for new laws to stop discrimination in access to goods and services on the grounds of disability, age, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.

"The text is currently being discussed by the Council of Ministers. I am afraid that despite much pressure from myself and other MEPs there has been no movement on this dossier as yet.

"The main country blocking progress is Germany although it is believed that there are many other Member States who have reservations.

"If this legislation goes through, it will go a long way to ensuring that people with disabilities can live work and access services equally in every EU country. We already have a legal framework in the UK but in some countries discrimination is still very widespread.

"All EU governments have signed up to various declarations pledging to oppose discrimination against disabled people. Today is a timely reminder that millions of disabled people all over Europe are watching and waiting for them to keep their promise."

ENDS

Note to editors:

Liz Lynne has been a fierce advocate of disabled people's equality since her youth. As Lib Dem MP for Rochdale she worked with William Hague on the Disability Discrimination Act, the seminal piece of UK legislation passed under the last Conservative government. As MEP for the West Midlands since 1999, Liz has been Vice President of the All Party Disability Intergroup and rapporteur for a 2003 European Parliament report on the UN Convention for Disabled People's Rights. She lobbied hard for Britain and other countries to sign and ratify the Convention and for the European Union to complete its legislation to outlaw discrimination not just in the field of employment but also in access to goods and services on all grounds.