On Wednesday, 10 October 2018, the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care (EEG) held a technical meeting entitled “Future of the EU funds for the transition from institutional to community-based care”. The event brought together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the REGI and EMPL committees, European Commission officials and civil society to discuss how the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) can support the transition from institutional to community-based care. The meeting was hosted by MEP Brando Benifei on behalf of the European Parliament Intergroup on Child Rights and the Intergroup on Disability Rights.
The meeting started with opening remarks from the event’s host, MEP Brando Benifei and Sabrina Ferraina, co-chair of the EEG. They both mentioned the importance of the topic discussed and acknowledged the existing commitment of the EU towards the transition from institutional to community based care during the 2014 – 2020 funding period.
“During the 2014-2020 funding period, the European Structural and Investment Funds have been a key component in the transition from institutional to community-based care, benefiting children and families, people with disabilities and people with mental health problems,” said Ms Ferraina. “Yet, more than 1 million children, persons with disabilities, people with mental health problems and homeless people continue to live in the long stay residential institutions, segregated from society in Europe,” she added.
MEP Brando Benifei said that collectively more has to be done to provide community-based care for social inclusion in the EU and that EU funds cannot be allowed to go to institutions or other arrangements not respecting freedom and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) (source: https://twitter.com/misver/status/1050028053332512769)
When speaking of the European Commission’s proposal on the Common Provision Regulation (CPR) and the significance of EU funds in fostering deinstitutionalisation and supporting the inclusion of persons with disabilities, MEP Helga Stevens (ECR) mentioned that references to non-discrimination and accessibility have been deleted from the proposed regulations, while these principles are included in the article 7 of the current CPR 1303/2013. “The proposed deletion or omission of non-discrimination and accessibility is not acceptable as this goes against CRPD,” MEP Stevens said.
She also noted that accessibility should be applied as a horizontal principle in the use of the Funds that CPR governs. “Accessibility, as well as participation of persons with disabilities, should be part of the criteria when selecting projects eligible for EU funding. Clear and transparent accessibility provisions should be included in the CPR proposal,” she added. “In concrete terms this means that the whole application procedure for EU funding should be transparent and accessible. When a call for projects is launched, this should be widely published so that everyone is aware of it, and so all organisations can have an equal chance of submitting project applications and competing for EU funds. This also means that information about the call for projects should also be provided in sign languages, easy-to-read and braille formats, and compatible with screen-readers,” MEP Stevens concluded.
She continued with demands to insert a specific reference to non-discrimination and accessibility in the Regulation, similar to the way gender equality has been included in Article 67. Furthermore, MEP Stevens stressed that EU funds should not be used to promote or continue institutionalisation or segregation. Proposed projects should be carefully screened to ensure that they actually contribute to inclusion of persons with disabilities in the society. “The best way to find this out is to check whether persons with disabilities themselves are playing an important role in selecting, implementation and monitoring of project proposals,” MEP Stevens said.
Katerina Nanou, EEG member and Policy and Advocacy Officer at Eurochild agreed with MEP Stevens on the importance of re-introducing article 7 on promotion of equality between men and women and non- discrimination. She added that EEG we will continue asking for this reference. She also mentioned that CPR should, indeed, prohibit the use of EU funds for institutionalisation or segregation of people. “The EEG community is glad to see that the ex-ante conditionality 9.1, which played an important role during the 2014-2020 funding period as it prioritised deinstitutionalsiation reforms in 12 Member States, has now been strengthened,” Ms Nanou said. “The EEG community calls on the European Parliament to maintain measures for the transition from institutional to community-based care under enabling condition 4.3 on poverty reduction and social inclusion, which now applies to all EU Member States. In addition, measures indicating participation of civil society and social partners in design and delivery of the national strategies for poverty reduction and social inclusion – which is a great novelty of current enabling condition 4.3 – must be maintained”. With regards to the Partnership Principle, Ms Nanou said that although it is important to have the principle included in the proposed regulations, the European Code of Conduct on Partnership requires further revision, based on the lessons learned in the current funding period.
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