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ENIL Calls for the Structural Funds to Support Independent Living




ENIL Press Release  

May 9th, 2012 


  The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) joins the European Expert Group on Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) in calling upon the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to uphold the ex ante conditionalities relevant to the Structural Funds' support of community-based alternatives to institutional care for children, persons with disabilities- including intellectual or psychosocial disabilities - and older persons.


  The EEG - whose members are nine European non governmental organisations active in the field of social inclusion, non discrimination and fundamental rights, the European Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNICEF - is advocating for Structural Funds to facilitate the social inclusion of children, persons with disabilities - including intellectual or psycosocial disabilities - and older persons, and their access to quality social and health care services in the community, as an alternative to the care provided in segregating residential settings. 


  For this reason, the EEG has welcomed the inclusion of "transition from institutional to community-based care" within the scope of the European Commission proposals for the new EU cohesion policy 2014-2020. In particular, we have welcomed the thematic ex ante conditionality regarding the objective "promoting social inclusion and combating poverty", which provides that the national strategies for poverty reduction should include measures for the shift from residential to community based care; as well as the general ex ante conditionality requiring the effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 


  We regret that these two important elements of the ex ante conditionalities have been removed in the compromise text agreed by the Council on 24 April 2012 within the framework of its partial general approach on the EU new cohesion policy


  During the current and past Structural Funds programming periods it has been shown that an appropriate combined use of the ERDF and the ESF can play an important role in supporting Member States' efforts in moving from institutional to community-based care (a process also known as "deinstitutionalisation"). However, we believe it is crucial that such investments should be planned and implemented in the context of Member States' structural and strategic reforms, and in line with international human rights standards. 


  Therefore, we call upon the Council and the European Parliament to do the following:


1.  Under the thematic ex ante conditionalities of the objective "promoting social inclusion and combating poverty", uphold the inclusion of "measures for the shift from residential to community-based care" in the national strategic policy frameworks to tackle poverty and social exclusion. The social inclusion objectives of Europe 2020, which include eradicating child poverty, promoting the active inclusion of the most vulnerable groups, providing decent housing for everyone and overcoming all forms of discrimination, cannot be achieved if the Member States fail to strategically address the situation of over 1,2 million Europeans who live in long-stay residential institutions, segregated from the rest of society. 


2.  Uphold the general ex ante conditionality requiring the existence of a mechanism which ensures effective implementation and application of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 19 of the Convention requires the EU and its Member States to take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can live their lives independently, included in the community. We believe that the existence of the proposed mechanism would help Member States and the European Union comply with this international obligation, by ensuring that all Structural Funds investments in care infrastructure and services promote the enjoyment of fundamental rights and social inclusion of persons with disabilities.


Contact ENIL
Jamie Bolling
ENIL Executive Director
ENIL's Secretariat
ENIL Secretary
About ENIL
The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a Europe-wide network of people with disabilities and organisations that promote and practice Independent Living.
ENIL website: www.enil.eu