EU Disability Card

Frank Larkin Accessible Letterkenny

Following on from my recent trip to Belgium to the conference in Brussels celebrating international day of people with disabilities, myself & fellow SBHI Donegal branch member Marcus Ward forwarded a question to Mairead MCGuinness MEP voicing our concerns around the EU disability card. The reason we sent our question to her is because she presented at the conference during the discussion on this very subject.

The EU is developing a system of mutual recognition based on an EU Disability Card in order that services and travel and services can be simpler for people with disabilities. To help people with disabilities travel more easily between EU countries, the EU is developing this system of mutual recognition based on an EU Disability Card.

Currently, there is no mutual recognition of disability status between EU Member States: this makes things difficult for persons with disabilities travelling to other EU countries. Currently there is nothing set in legislation regarding what is available by using the card in the countries where it is available. The services or possibly concessions for PA’s are it would appear down to the discretion/goodwill of service providers.

The EU Disability Card should ensure an equal access to certain specific benefits, mainly in the areas of culture, leisure, sport and transport. The Card should be mutually recognised between EU countries participating in the system, on a voluntary basis.

A pilot was launched in February 2016, and kick started the Card in a first group of these eight EU countries:

Belgium,
Cyprus,
Estonia,
Finland,
Italy,
Malta,
Slovenia,
Romania

The countries were selected following a 2015 call for proposals to support national projects on a mutually recognised European Disability Card and associated benefits. The results of the Call are available to the public.

This pilot was prepared with a dedicated Project Working Group made up of 17 Member States and civil society organisations. This group is a sub-section of the High Level Group on Disability.

The Card does not change national eligibility criteria or rules. Member States retain their discretion to decide who is eligible to receive the Card, using the national definition of disability, and to determine the issuing procedure.

There seems to be a lot of ambiguity relating to the card and we believe that clarification is required in the form of legislation that sets in stone what is and is not available by using the card.

It is imperative that it is not left to the discretion of service providers and requires uniformity across the board. We will keep everyone informed regarding any reply we get to our question.

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