The European Disability Forum, which is the voice of 65 million persons with disabilities and their families in Europe, calls on the European Council, Commission and Parliament and other European institutions and all the Governments of Europe to ensure that people with disabilities and their families do not pay for the developing economic crisis. The crisis is currently developing in Greece, but already manifest in several countries across the Eurozone and other parts of Europe.
The European Disability Forum is extremely concerned and worried that in the developing economic and political crisis in Europe, women and men with disabilities of all ages, and their families, pay for the crisis by the reduction in their income, benefits, and support and employment opportunities or in cuts in support to our representative organisations.
We reaffirm the statement we made in November 2008 and we reiterate that the crisis was caused by irresponsible lending and unacceptable negligence by those in charge of the financial institutions, government policies and the failure of regulatory bodies of the world. Governments, as a result of the same financial institutions and international currency speculators being bailed out by tax payers, are forcing draconian cutbacks to pay for this greed and negligence. It is these governments and institutions which are the cause of the crisis, who should be made to pay for it and not persons with disabilities, other vulnerable groups or the citizens of Europe generally. EDF expresses solidarity with all such groups and resolves to work with them to resist the specter of savage attacks on the living standards of the peoples of Europe designed to pay for the greed and mismanagement of the financial sector.
The European Union has only recently agreed to protect and develop the human rights of all women and men with disabilities of all ages and their families by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Already 15 EU countries have ratified and the rest have signed the UNCRPD. Measures of social protection and equality that have been achieved by the struggles of persons with disabilities and other progressive forced across Europe and which are the corner stone for social inclusion are now gravely threatened by the financial crisis.
We call on all Governments and EU Institutions to continue to engage in supporting and developing policies of inclusion with concrete measures, such as outlined in the EDF proposal for a European Pact on Disability. Persons with disabilities and their families must be involved in all discussions about changes in the provisions for them as they can often come up with much more cost-effective solutions. This includes building a Europe of all its citizens where their contribution is rewarded with the development of the best economic, social and political future for all Europeans.