On Thursday, EU legislators reached an agreement on the framework for an EU-wide Disability Card, which is designed to provide a baseline for support for people with disabilities in Europe.
In Europe, approximately 87 million individuals deal with disabilities, often facing obstacles while traveling between member states due to inconsistent recognition of their disability status.
The Employment and Social Affairs committee in the European Parliament unanimously endorsed its stance on the new directive, which introduces the EU Disability Card and updates the European Parking Card for people with disabilities.
This directive guarantees that anyone visiting other member states receives equivalent access to special conditions, preferential treatment, and parking privileges as residents of those states.
This development follows a European Commission pilot project that sought to standardise existing national disability cards from eight countries at the EU level.
Between 2016 and 2018, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia implemented the pilot card scheme. The ensuing study assessed the project’s implementation, examining its usefulness across the participating countries.
Throughout the project, EU Disability Card holders enjoyed uniform access to special conditions and preferential treatment in public and private services during travel, which included transport, cultural events, leisure and sports centers, and museums.
These special conditions include free entry, reduced tariffs, priority access, personal assistance, and mobility aids, among other benefits.
The European Disability Forum (EDF) applauded this initiative, commenting that the Parliament’s position “clearly reflects the demands of persons with disabilities.”
The EDF also highlighted the Parliament’s call for the European Disability Card to offer temporary access to allowances, support, and social security during work-related or educational mobility, including participation in EU Mobility Programs like Erasmus+.
In an interview, MEP Lucia Ďuriš, rapporteur of the file in the Parliament, said, “This long-awaited piece of legislation will not only simplify travel but also transform the commitment to free movement for all Europeans, outlined in treaties, into a tangible reality. It’s high time to ensure that everyone, including individuals with disabilities, can move freely within the EU.”
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