Czech EU Presidency: "Europe without Barriers also means freedom over physical and attitude frontiers"

03 Mar 2009

EDF Pavel

Prague, 1st march 2009 - Czech Minister Pavel Svoboda's official speech was addressed to the Board members of the European Disability Forum (EDF), the representative organisation of 50 million disabled people in Europe, meeting in Prague over this week-end.

While sketching the importance of an environment designed for all within the European Union space, where people with disabilities can exert the same rights as any other citizens, the Czech Minister insisted on the need to ratify the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD): "the Czech Republic not only needs to adopt the UN CRPD but also to implement it at national level"

State Secretary and Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Petr Šimerka, reminded how important it is to ensure that the Czech National Disability Council is involved in every decision concerning persons with disabilities: "Our Presidency has opened its meetings to all disability representatives".

EDF President Yannis Vardakastanis stressed its great expectations with the Czech Presidency regarding the EU Employment and Social Affairs Council next June: "The EU-27 Ministers will address the UN CRPD, the first ever international Convention ratified by the European Communities. Their decisions will affect the future of the UN CRPD and its implementation in the EU. It is a great opportunity to make the principle "Nothing about us, without us" work and turn words into deeds. Including the disability movement and listening to its voice at this stage is essential."

"2009 is a crucial year for the disability movement with both the European Parliament elections and the new European Commission" said EDF President. "It is our responsibility to build a strong and effective awareness scheme for future decision makers and disability issues at EU level. The vote on the European elections must be accessible for persons with disabilities. Lets make it a very first step for a concrete implementation of the UN Convention for a Europe without barriers".

For more information, please contact: Aurélien Daydé, EDF Communication and Media Officer -