Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024
Brussels, 6 September 2023

Today, the European Commission delivered a legislative proposal that will facilitate access to the right to free movement for persons with disabilities, by making sure they can, on an equal basis, access special conditions, preferential treatment, and parking rights when visiting another Member State. The Commission’s proposal introduces a standardised European Disability Card and enhances the current European Parking Card for persons with disabilities. Both cards will be recognised throughout the EU.

A European Disability Card

When people’s disability status is not recognised abroad, they cannot access the special conditions and preferential treatment, such as free and/or priority access, reduced fees or personal assistance, while visiting other Member States. To address this issue, the Commission proposes the creation of a standardised European Disability Card.

The European Disability Card will serve as recognised proof of disability throughout the EU, granting equal access to special conditions and preferential treatment in public and private services, including for instance transport, cultural events, museums, leisure and sport centres, or amusement parks. It will be issued by the national competent authorities and complement existing national cards or certificates.

Improving the European Parking Card

For many persons with disabilities, private car transport remains the best or only possibility for travel and getting around independently, ensuring their autonomy. The proposed improvements to the current European Parking Card will allow persons with disabilities to access the same parking rights available in another Member State. It will have a binding common format that will replace national parking cards for persons with disabilities and be recognised throughout the EU.

Ensuring accessibility of the cards

To promote ease of use and reduce administrative burden, the proposedDirectivewill require Member States to:

  • Provide the cards in both physical and digital versions.
  • Make conditions and rules for issuing or withdrawing the cards publicly available in accessible formats.
  • Ensure service providers offer information on special conditions and preferential treatment for persons with disabilities in accessible formats.

To guarantee compliance, Member States must ensure persons with disabilities, their representative organisations and relevant public bodies can take action under national law if needed. After adoption of the Directive into national law, Member States are asked to impose fines and corrective measures in case of violations.

Next steps

The Commission’s proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. The proposal foresees that once adopted, Member States will have 18 months to incorporate the provisions of the Directive into national law.

Background

The proposed Directive establishing the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities was announced in the EU Strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030. The proposal contributes the implementation by the EU of the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, to which the EU and all its Member States are party (UNCRPD). 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 proposal also aligns with the principles of equal opportunities and of inclusion of people with disabilities from the European Pillar of Social Rights.

This initiative builds on the outcomes of the EU Disability Card pilot project conducted in Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Romania, and Slovenia between 2016 and 2018. In addition, it integrates insights from a recent public consultation, which collected over 3,300 replies, of which 78% from persons with disabilities.

For More Information

Proposal for a Directive establishing the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities

Proposed Directive establishing the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities (easy-to-read version)

Q&A

Quotes

Source – EU Commission


Q&A: European Disability Card and European Parking Card for persons with disabilities

 

Brussels, 6 September 2023

What challenges do persons with disabilities face when traveling across the EU?

Persons with disabilities encounter structural barriers and systemic inequalities that limit their full participation in society. Despite their equal right as EU citizens to move freely within the EU, their disability status is not always recognised across Member States. As a result, when persons with disabilities visit another Member State, they might not have access to the same special conditions and preferential treatment, such as free and/or priority access, reduced fees and personal assistance, or reserved parking spaces that are available to those with recognised disability status in that Member State. Such legal uncertainties may discourage or hinder persons with disabilities from traveling in the EU.

This situation creates legal uncertainty and potential additional costs for persons with disabilities. In addition, persons with disabilities may face other travel barriers due to high expenses for their specific needs. In 2020, 20.9% of persons with disabilities aged 16 and over were at risk of poverty in the EU, compared to 14.8% of those without disabilities. It thereby hinders them to exercise their free movement rights fully and effectively.

What are the main objectives of the proposal?

The proposed Directive’s main objective is to ensure equal access to special conditions and preferential treatment for persons with disabilities during short-term stays in other Member States. It does so by:

  • Introducing a standardised European Disability Card and improving the existing European Parking Card for persons with disabilities.
  • Recognising the European Disability Card as proof of disability, granting access to special conditions and preferential treatment offered by private operators or public authorities.
  • Providing holders of the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities with equal access to designated reserved parking spaces as well as other parking conditions and facilities.
  • Making information available in accessible formats about how to obtain these cards and about the special conditions and preferential treatment offered for persons with disabilities.
  • Reducing administrative burdens for persons with disabilities, private operators, and public authorities.
What does the European Disability Card cover?

The European Disability Card covers special conditions and preferential treatment from both public and private entities, including reduced fees, free and/or priority entry, personal assistance, support services (such as access to braille and audio guides), mobility aids, and more, offered by Member States to persons with disabilities residing there. It is designed to complement, rather than replace, national disability cards or certificates. Member States will continue to be competent for assessing disability status. The European Disability Card does not apply to employment or social security benefits nor social assistance.

Is the coverage of the European Disability Card equal in all Member States?

The European Disability Card will ensure mutual recognition of disability status in the EU. Its scope is the same across all Member States: it should provide the same access to special conditions and preferential treatment for persons with disabilities traveling to another Member State for short stays as offered by Member States to persons with disabilities residing there.

What improvements are proposed for the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities?

Although the current EU parking card for persons with disabilities should be recognised in all EU countries, evidence shows that users face uncertainties about their parking rights and experience limited recognition of the card when travelling to other Member States. This situation is exacerbated by differences in the card’s format, design and implementation across the EU. Moreover, the Council Recommendation that established the European parking card model for persons with disabilities has not been updated to reflect developments in technology and digitalisation.

To address these issues, the Commission’s proposal introduces an improved European Parking Card for persons with disabilities. It introduces a binding and standardised card model with security features to combat fraud and forgery. The new proposal also requires Member States to replace national as well as the previous European parking cards for persons with disabilities with the European Parking Card.

How can persons with disabilities apply for the European Disability Card and Parking Cards?

Each Member State must designate a competent authority to oversee the issuance, renewal, and withdrawal of both cards according to the respective national rules and practices. Member States will be required to provide information on the application and procedure in accessible formats, including digital.

National public authorities will be responsible for issuing, implementing and ensuring the common recognition of both the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities. Member States are required to take steps to prevent forgery or fraud related to the cards.

Is there a list of all special conditions or preferential treatment for European Disability Card holders?

There will not be a centralised EU resource listing the special conditions and preferential treatment for the European Disability Card holders across Member States. Nevertheless, the proposed Directive mandates Member States to ensure that private operators or public authorities make this information available for free in accessible and user-friendly formats.

Special conditions and preferential treatment for persons with disabilities may include free access, reduced fees, priority access, personal assistance, access to braille and audio guides), and mobility aids, among others. The special conditions and treatment for persons with disabilities vary across Member States.

Will the European Disability and Parking cards be available digitally?

Yes, the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities will have digital formats, in addition to the physical cards. Persons with disabilities will be able choose to use either the digital card, the physical card, or both.

Were persons with disabilities involved in developing this Directive?

Persons with disabilities and their support networks, including those representative civil society organisations associated with the Disability Platform, played a significant role in shaping this Directive. Their contributions were drawn from their experiences using the EU parking card for persons with disabilities and the European Disability Card pilot project, as well as a targeted online survey. This input helped identify key issues and address genuine needs for persons with disabilities.

In addition, a recent public consultation held from February to May 2023 with 3,361 responses (78% from persons with disabilities) confirmed the need for a standardised European Disability Card and improved European Parking Card. Persons with disabilities agreed that these cards would guarantee and simplify mutual recognition of disability status among EU Member States, ultimately enabling them to exercise their travel rights and help increase the travel frequency of persons with disabilities in the EU.

When will the European Disability and Parking cards for persons with disabilities be available?

The Commission’s proposal will first be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. The proposal foresees that once adopted, Member States will have 18 months to incorporate the provisions of the Directive into national law. One year later, the legislation would become applicable, at which point persons with disabilities could apply for the cards.

For More Information

Press release

Proposal for a Directive establishing the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities.

Source – EU Commission

 

 

 

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