UN CRPD Committee reviews EU in guiding dialogue
Door: Jolijn Santegoeds
06 September 2015 | Zwitserland, Genève
Last week, on 27 and 28 August 2015, the review of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) in the European Union took place in Geneva. It was very intense.
It took me some time to complete this blog report on the EU review by the UN CRPD Committee, partially because it was quite hard to understand the complexity of the EUs roles and responsibilities in regards of human rights, and I wanted to really understand the depth of the Constructive Dialogue. Also the Constructive Dialogue session had been intense for me because it brought up some personal feelings (great hope and some disappointment). So my head was really full after the EU session, and I needed to evaluate the meaning of it all. So this blog is rather late, because I needed some time. I was a kind of “alone” in Geneva, without any other peers from the user survivor movement on mental health issues, and no working wifi in the far-away hotel, so that was kind of challenging. But I wasn’t really alone, because there were quite some colleagues from the European Disability Forum (EDF), and several other international disability experts and organizations (such as IDA), and also the UN staff and Committee members , so I had many interesting conversations and I wasn’t bored at all. It was just a huge load of information, and some emotions, that I had to deal with.
I have been watching the webcast of the EU review carefully, and analysed the full Constructive Dialogue between the EU delegation and the UN CRPD Committee, to make sure that I wasn’t misunderstanding any of the issues. It was a very interesting Dialogue at a high political level. The CRPD Committee members raised many questions to guide and inspire the EU in their actions towards the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This even brought me to tears of happiness when the CRPD Committee stood up firmly for the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities to be included in the EU efforts for human rights, especially regarding the elimination of institutionalization and forced treatment. They suggested that the EU should use its power to ensure the core fundamental EU values of equality, freedom, justice and human rights. That was amazing.
However, tragically, the EU kind of dodged responsibility on this issue, which then made me feel very sad, because it seemed like the loss of this opportunity to make a real change in the lives of people. It moved me personally, because I am one of the European citizens that is yearning for recognition and remedies regarding very serious human rights violations by forced psychiatric treatments and forced institutionalization. These human rights violations have to stop. I was hurt by the bureaucratic and economic focus of the EU, which in my opinion is not the world we want to see, so in that way the representation of the EU delegation was very disappointing to me. So it was a very intense meeting, raising high hopes and then painful disappointments. But I have digested it now.
The full webcast of the EU review can be found here http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/crpd-14-eu-english-audio/ And here is my detailed personal report:
On Thursday 27 August 2015, the EU review process by the UN CRPD Committee started at Palais Wilson of the UN OHCHR. In the morning, from 10.00 to 12.30 I joined the preparatory meeting with the European Disability Forum (EDF), where we prepared for the EDF Side Event that would take place during lunchtime from 1.15 to 2.45. The Side Event was a briefing to present our key issues to the CRPD Committee members before they started the official Constructive Dialogue meeting with the EU delegation. In the EDF-side event, I made a brief 5-minute presentation on behalf of the European Network of (Ex) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP), stating that there are still many persons with psychosocial disabilities in the EU who are deprived of their liberty, deprived of their legal capacity, being subjected to acts of torture and ill-treatments, and lacking access to justice in regards of these human rights violations in the EU. The EU should take a leading role in eliminating these human right violations. The presentation went very well, and afterwards I got many compliments on the presentation, which was said to be “excellent” and very clear, so that made me feel good. :)
Shortly after the side event, at 3 PM the Constructive Dialogue between the UN CRPD Committee and the EU delegation started. I was very curious to see what would happen, because our issues on CRPD articles 12 to 17 , though clearly understood by the UN CRPD Committee, were initially not included in the official List of Issues issued by the UN CRPD Committee to the EU in April 2015, which was due to various procedural reasons. Subsequently, ENUSP Shadow Report on the EU was submitted to the UN CRPD Committee in July 2015, to help the UN CRPD Committee in understanding our key concerns, and the role and responsibilities of the EU regarding to our issues. I was now about to see whether ENUSP’s advocacy would make any difference, and whether we were included or excluded in this human rights process as EU citizens with psychosocial disabilities. I had hopes and fears, because the bureaucratic rules on independence of member states and vague responsibilities of the EU were said to be a possible barrier for EU actions on our rights, but still, if there is a political will there will also be ways to take action, and so I hoped that the EU would really take the human rights serious, and learn from the CRPD Committee’s approach. This first review ever of a regional international organization as a ratifying party to a UN treaty, could be a truly historical moment. It was exciting to be there.
At the start of the session, Mr. Michel Servoz, head of EU delegation, gave an introduction of the EU, and he explained the EU structure with the various EU institutions and layers of power: the European Commission (EC), The European Parliament (EP), the European Ombudsman, the Council of the EU, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and EUs Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), and of course also the Member States have a role and responsibility too, which is discussed and defined issue by issue on paper in the treaties and directives of the EU. It was clear that the EU is a complex bureaucratic model.
Mr. Servoz highlighted that the European Commission had found that the unemployment rate of persons with disabilities is very high in the EU: 48% of persons with disabilities is unemployed, and only 27,8% has completed third level education, which is significantly lower than the general population. So therefore the European Commission has decided to focus EUs policy-making on the area of Employment, especially in the light of the economic crisis and the fact that 1 third of persons with disabilities is at risk of poverty. So therefore the EU takes action on this point. Personally, I immediately got the taste of some underlying short-sighted economic cost-model approach overshadowing the human rights based approach, but I wanted to give the EU delegation the benefit of the doubt, as this was only the introduction of the dialogue on human rights for persons with disabilities in the EU. I hoped they had more in store.
Mr. Servoz also highlighted in his introduction that the European Commission has made new rules for the use of European Funding, the so-called “ex-ante-conditions” , which imply that it is not allowed anymore to use the EU Funds for the building or renovation of institutions for persons with disabilities, but that the EU money should be used only for initiatives that fully respect the UN CRPD and support independent living in the community in an inclusive manner. This is a positive thing, because EUs money really has the potential to influence member states practices.
After this general introduction by the EU delegation, Mr. Damian Tatic, CRPD-Committee member and co-rapporteur on the EU review, started his opening speech by welcoming everyone and highlighting some good achievements of the EU, such as the new rules on EU Funding that ensure that EU’s money is no longer going to institutions and must be spent in line with the UN CRPD principles. Then Mr. Tatic raised his first issue of concern and said: Unfortunately not all citizens of Europe have their full legal capacity and many are still under guardianship regimes, and that is something we should be talking about, that’s not in line with article 12 CRPD as elaborated in General Comment nr 1. He continued: The number of persons with disabilities, especially persons with psychosocial disabilities or intellectual disabilities in institutions deprived of their liberty without their free and informed consent, that is also something that we should look at.
I was very grateful to hear that the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities were not excluded due to procedural reasons here, which is what EU does. But the CRPD Committee apparently had decided to not leave us behind, and that even brought me to tears, because this inclusion could mean that something could really be opened up in this Constructive Dialogue, and a REAL difference could be made here. The fact that article 12 and 14 were not taboo meant that bureaucracy was not winning from the human rights approach at the CRPD Committee. I was really happy about that, and to me, the entire CRPD Committee had a majestic glow over them, I found them truly heroic.
The first round of questions by the CRPD Committee members was ranging from articles 1 to 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was very interesting and there were many clear cut questions on various EU initiatives, such as the European Equal Treatment Directive, the European Accessibility Act, the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, and on EU’s employment strategies, including on sheltered workshops and segregated education systems, and on awareness raising activities. Also there were several questions on the level of participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in EU’s implementation of the CRPD. Also several Committee members raised specific questions on how many times the EU has already used the new rules on EU Funding, and how many times the EU has withdrawn the funding because it was used to build or renovate institutions.
There were also several direct questions on what EU does in case EU member states’ laws contradict the EU laws which include the CRPD, and how harmonization is monitored and ensured, and how and when the infringement procedures are applied by the EU upon member states. CRPD article 4.1.b implies a duty to bring legislative measures, to modify laws or regulations, customs and practices which are in violation of the CRPD. Several Committee members asked what the EU has done so far, and what EU’s plans are for harmonization of all legislation within the EU in regards of the international human rights obligations.
I was again very happy to hear the CRPD Committee raising this angle of approach, because there is a huge ongoing violation of the CRPD in the EU, by the national legislation of EU member states which still allow for forced institutionalization and forced psychiatric treatments despite the fact that such practices are identified as a human right violation under the CRPD, and true European leadership in eliminating this practice could make a real difference. So my hope was rising. Maybe the EU would take this chance to really dedicate themselves to the advancement of human rights?
After a 15 minute break, I was back in the room to listen to the replies of the EU delegation, which they had prepared in this very short time. In the EU reply, Mr. Servoz again talked about many different policies, programmes, working groups and meetings, and it was clear that it takes many years to process anything through the various layers of the EU. But at least it was positive that they were making the attempts. Mr. Servoz gave more information on the new rules for EU Funding, and explained that the new rules apply since 2014 and they are still in the transition phase, so he asked to be patient on that. Mr. Servoz also touched upon the “infringement procedures” , but it was clear that the EU takes a very narrow approach to its responsibilities, and focusses primarily on the area of “equal employment” as an issue where the EU can execute direct powers.
I found the EU’s reply dissatisfying and even quite disturbing, because again it was a very procedural explanation, and it seemed to me that they were so much into the bureaucratic rules and paperwork that they missed the real sense of linking their work to the reality with due urgency. As a person with a background of lived psychosocial problems and horrifying forced treatments, I am truly hurt by the claim of the EU that their major focus on “equal employment” is a key to the human rights of persons with disabilities. This is truly negligent to the lived experience and ongoing advocacy of persons with psychosocial problems, who for decades speak out against horrible treatments which are done in the name of health care services, but on the latter issue, the EU remains totally silent. How can they now claim that employment is the key issue for human rights? It is just disrespectful towards the lived reality of persons with psychosocial disabilities, who suffer from the loss of the core human dignity, and their rights and freedoms, by deprivation of legal capacity and being subjected to the choices that other people make about their lives, and by being deprived of liberty in horrible impersonal institutions, and subjected to horrible treatments, including restraints, solitary confinement, forced drugging, and electroshocks, which amount to torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment. These violent and disrespectful treatments result in suffering and trauma. And now the EU talks about employment being a key issue in the context of human rights!?! To me it feels like they are totally missing the point here, in regards to the situation and the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. I find that very sad.
But I still had the hope that something positive could happen during the Constructive Dialogue between the EU and the UN CRPD Committee. The next round of questions was on CRPD articles 11 to 20, and these fundamental rights are of main importance to the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities.
During this second cluster, the issue of forced psychiatric treatments in the EU was really put forward as a big concern of the CRPD Committee.
One of the first speakers, Ms. Silvia Quan-Chang asked the EU delegation which measures are being taken by the European Commission to ensure that people who have psychosocial disabilities are not forced into institutionalization, nor are they subject and forced into medical treatment without their free and informed consent. And in addition, what measures are being taken to protect persons to ensure that third parties don’t take decisions on their behalf, including on forced abortion, forced sterilization. She also asked whether the EU was ensuring that measures are being properly taken to protect the rights of persons with disabilities against violations regarding the rights under CRPD articles 14,15 and 17.
Ms. Diane Kingston added to that, by expressing deep concerns about the use of European Funds to redevelop or expand institutions for persons with disabilities, especially for children and people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities. She asked about the extent to which the Funds were used to finance institutions, institutional settings , including so-called small groups homes, and asked whether the EU plans to provide restitution, reparations and compensation to persons with disabilities in institutions which have received EU financing, in accordance with the UN’s General Assembly Resolution 60/147.
Ms. Kingston also raised questions on article 12, such as what steps the EU has taken to revise standards on criminal justice to guarantee fair trial by eliminating restrictions to access to justice based on legal capacity status and unfitness to stand trial. She also asked for an explanation as towards the responsibility the EU has with regards to ensuring that every adult citizen with disabilities across the EU has the legal right and practical help to vote in European Parliamentary elections, because there are 21 of Europe’s member states where persons with disabilities who are deprived of their legal capacity are automatically deprived of their right to vote, including elections for the European Parliament.
Ms. Theresia Degener also raised questions related to article 12, and asked what steps the EU is taking to ensure that all persons with disabilities deprived of their legal capacity can exercise all the rights enshrined in the EU treaties , and asked if there was any research or plans for research on supported decision making. She emphasized that article 12 is posing a challenge to all EU member states, including those who have not yet ratified, and the EU therefore has an added value in this area as it can promote a shared approach to learning and innovation in this area.
Ms. Theresia Degener also raised questions on article 15, especially related to research. She asked how the EU is ensuring that the research that is funded under the EU research programmes is in line with article 15, including on the protection of persons with disabilities to medical or scientific experimentation without consent, and whether there are any guidelines on supported decision making or obtaining informed consent, which is not a black and white issue. She also asked whether the EU takes steps to ensure that the EU research programmes do not fund or support research and technologies, activities or products that allow the use of net beds, restraints and other non-consensual practices used against persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, in psychiatric hospitals , and in institutions.
Mr Stig Langvad also raised questions related to article 12 and stressed the importance of good examples of supported decision making, and asked when the EU will take initiative to gather good examples on supported decision making between the member states. Also he asked when the European Commission will follow up on the recommendation of the European Parliament, to adopt EU legislation to ban forced sterilization in the EU. He also firmly raised the issue of infringements again, such as in relation to the misuse of EU Funds for the renovation of institutions, which as we know is still happening in various EU member states. He firmly asked: How long do we have to wait before the EU takes action? Is there an expiry date for the patience of the EU?
Mr. Coomaravel Pyaneandee stated that without access to justice, the EU cannot say that it is based on the rule of law, and he asked whether the EU would take a lead to legislate on this issues, or whether the issue was left to the member states.
Mr. Munthian Buntan also expressed concerns the right to exercise political rights for persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in the EU , and emphasized that in the EU Treaty, the right of every person to exercise political rights is guaranteed for all EU citizens. While in practice in many countries, especially persons with psychosocial disabilities or intellectual disabilities are deprived from exercising their political rights and are not allowed to vote. Mr. Buntan asked whether the EU hypothetically could take action whenever they would find out that EU Funds are used to perpetuate deprivation of political rights, which is both a violation of EUs primary law and the CRPD.
He also explicitly asked whether the EU has any way of investigating or monitoring of the use of EU Funds by authorities or organizations, to prevent that the EU money is used in support of guardianship regimes or substitute decision making regimes, and how the EU is going to deal with that.
The final speaker of this round of questions by the UN CRPD Committee was Ms. Maria Soledad, who repeated her question about the shared competencies in the area of freedom, security and justice. She asked for a clarification on the fact that the core EU-values and principles correspond with the current cluster of questions, especially articles 14 to 17 which have to do with liberty, security and justice, so it seems only logical that the EU has competence to legislate in this area. Therefore she asked what the EU has done in this area. In addition she asked if the EU delegation could clarify the specific reasons why the EU has not legislated under article 12, which affects so many people, and can also be seen from the angle of liberty, security and justice.
At 6 PM the session ended, to be continued the next morning from 10 AM on.
I was very happy with the fact that so many questions were raised on articles 12, 13, 14 and 15, and the fact that the key concerns of ENUSP were included in the questions of the UN CRPD Committee members. The CRPD Committee stood up so firmly for our rights, it was a truly wonderful experience. It was clear that the UN CRPD Committee does not accept the exclusion of certain groups of persons with disabilities, and that they made efforts to find a way to include the issue in a legally solid way. It was really wonderful to see the CRPD Committee tackle the bureaucratic-procedural barriers so eloquently, and really proving their unconditional support to the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities as well as other disabilities. Even in hard times, the CRPD Committee does not leave us behind, but they speak out to help achieving our rights. It is totally heart-warming, inspiring, supportive, empowering and so much more. The CRPD Committee once more touched my heart and filled it with hope.
It was a beautiful day, and so I didn’t want to spoil that by going back to the hotel which was not a good place to work as it was rather isolated without wifi. So I decided to enjoy my evening, and I had a nice pizza in the city centre, at Pizza Alfredo, which has nice staff that appreciated my appearance and was very friendly. I had a very nice time, doing some email work and having some nice talks with friendly people on the terrace. After my nice dinner, I took the public transport for 1 hour to go to my hotel, which was just 10 metres over the French border, and there I worked out some notes, until I found out that it was already getting really late (3 AM) and I needed to get some sleep, because I also had to get up early to make the travel back to Geneva centre the next morning. So I had only quite a short rest, which maybe wasn’t so smart considering the intensity of the EU review, but anyway, I managed to get up early, and travelled to Geneva with the tram, almost desperate for a cup of coffee.
So then, on Friday morning 28 August 2015, after refilling my coffee, I first joined the side event of EASPD, and then at 10 AM the CRPD session on the EU continued.
The session started by the replies of the EU delegation to the questions that were raised yesterday. Mr. Servoz spoke about the “shared competences” between the EU and member states , and explained that the powers of the EU and resp. its member states vary per issue as is defined in the EU Treaty.
On legal capacity, Mr. Servoz simply stated that the EU has no direct competence to regulate the substantive law concerning the recognition and the exercise of legal capacity in the member states, and therefore there is no legislation on legal capacity on the EU level, although they acknowledge that it is an issue that impacts the full enjoyment of other rights including citizenship rights. Mr. Servoz mentioned that EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency carries out studies and investigations on the laws and practices in the area of legal capacity between different member states and provides a good basis for exchange of knowledge and mutual learning between member states.
He also once more elaborated on the procedural sides of the new rules on the use of EU Funding, which should not be used for the building or renovation of institutions.
Ms. Luisa Cabral, who was also representing the EU delegation, also presented some of the EU replies to the questions of the UN CRPD Committee.
About the right to vote, she said: The EU has no general competence to regulate the conditions under which the member states own nationals are eligible to vote in elections, including the rules that apply to persons with disabilities, and including the electoral procedures concerning the elections for the European Parliament.
She also spoke about a number of new guidelines on procedures related to access to justice, which wasn’t bad in itself, but I was still brought to tears by this issue. This was partially because of my own personal struggle to find recognition and access to justice for human rights violations by psychiatry at a younger age, an issue that is painfully burning inside my heart. Secondly I was disappointed because the EUs response was only elaborating on bureaucratic-procedural initiatives with a narrow scope and narrow interpretation, and it was not encompassing any action towards the real barriers to access to justice for persons with psychosocial disabilities, such as the national laws in member states that authorize for substitute decision making, involuntary institutionalization and forced psychiatric treatments on the basis of psychosocial disability, and which prevent access to justice in regards to complaining about these practices, since these practices are perceived as “legal” under the domestic laws. This wasn’t mentioned at all by the EU delegation, and to me that felt like the EU was not recognizing the need to support our rights, - but they are experts so it is hard to believe they actually are not aware of the situation, so it is more likely that it is about a lack of political will – and that hurts, since it is like they turn their back on our rights, the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. And this hurts, because I really want to believe in the “European dream” of a Europe which fully respects all human rights for all persons. I did have high expectations of the EU, and had hoped for a truly historic moment. But when hearing the EU replies, my hope was crushed bit by bit.
Luisa Cabral continued on the issue of mental health, and stated that member states remain the main responsible for public health, and EU has no competence to legislate on these issues. She referred to a report on research done by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, which found that forced institutionalization and forced treatments affect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the persons subjected, which was useful to raise awareness. She further mentioned the EU Joint Action Mental Health and Wellbeing, a working group on community based approaches to mental health, and a campaign on healthy workplaces including the mental health dimension. She also stated that the EU has no competence to intervene directly in the field of forced sterilization.
This wasn’t giving me any hope. Again the EU dodged all the responsibilities on these very serious human rights issues, and hid behind the member states independence, as if the EU is incapable of showing any leadership on these issues. In fact, I could hardly bear to listen to the EU’s replies anymore, since it was really devastating my hope, while the CRPD Committee’s had been so inspiring and illuminating. It was very intense. Luckily the EU-delegation was finishing their presentation, and the last round of questions by the UN CRPD Committee started, covering articles 21 to 33 of the CRPD.
Again the questions of the UN CRPD Committee pushed the EU delegation into considering new lines of action, and they challenged the political powers. Ms. Diane Kingston clearly said she didn’t understand why some persons with disabilities appear to be more equal than others.
Ms. Silvia Quan specifically asked how the EU ensures that also in international developmental cooperation there is no EU Funding going to institutions and other segregated facilities such as segregated schools or protected workshops, which are full of stereotypes and the exclusion thereof.
She also repeated the question of her colleague on when the EU will make an updated statement of EU competences in relation to the CRPD implementation.
Mr. Hyung Shik Kim again raised questions on the harmonization between international law and national law within the EU, and he raised questions on EUs policy and member states policy on sheltered workshops and on the legislation on equality in employment, including equal pay.
Both Mr. Damlani Basharu and Mr. Stig Langvad emphasized that the FRA-reports identify clear barriers to the human rights of persons with disabilities, respectively on political participation and on involuntary institutionalization and forced treatments, and these findings and recommendations would naturally require an EU-response by taking action to eliminate these violations of international laws and human rights conventions. So they asked what measures the EU is taking to ensure elimination these obstacles to the human rights of persons with disabilities.
After a small break of 15 minutes, there was again time for the EU-delegation to present the EU replies to the questions raised. In fact I wasn’t in the room, because I was still feeling rather overloaded, and I had already an idea of what the EU was going to say. I looked it up at the webcast later, and I appeared to be right: The EU replies did not contain any historic memorable statement.
Mr. Servoz explained that in relation to sheltered workshops the EU has a two-track approach: they prefer open workplaces and open labour contract, but also still fund the organization of sheltered workshops. And in relation to the FRA reports the political answer was given that “they take the FRA recommendations into account”. The majority of the EU reply was about various policies on several topics.
I found it hard to see that my hope, and my “European dream” of European action to end forced psychiatric treatments and involuntary institutionalization, was being destroyed by a kind of procedural monster which is stealing valuable energy that could be used in a more constructive way. I found that very shocking and painful, and I did not want to believe that my European Dream would end here, so I kept my distance, and skipped the very last round of EU replies, comforting myself by talking to allies in the hallways and the cafetaria. That was lifting me up and inspiring me again. And in this way, I protected my dream from being broken further.
I was very happy to hear that the Closing remarks by Mr. Munthian Buntan at the end of the session , and the end of the Constructive Dialogue, were very great and sensible. Mr. Buntan expressed some final overall concerns and stated: I sometimes feel puzzled by matter of “ competence” which seems to limit the gigantic power of the EU from exercising its muscles to effectively implement the Convention. He also stated that it is of concern that many things are still pending and require more patience. “We do not know when and how the rights of persons with disabilities will be fully recognized, protected and promoted, especially those with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. We do not know how long many persons with disabilities will continue to be institutionalized and deprived from their right to liberty and security by several member states. (…) We do not know, but we still keep our hope high.“
This exactly summarized my feelings. We do not know, but we keep our hope high.
The very last words of the session were coming from the chair of the UN CRPD Committee, Ms. Maria Soledad, who once more gave an inspiring push to the EU-delegation, by emphasizing that in state parties, the CRPD has a constitutional ranking, and sometimes super-constitutional , and that is why she hopes that within the EU the CRPD will also enjoy the highest ranking as a cross-cutting Convention in many directions, including in all the work done by the EU.
After the session, I was exhausted, like most colleagues of EDF. Many of them had to leave to travel back to their places of residence, but my flight was on Saturday (next day), so I had enough time. I stayed at the Palais Wilson cafeteria, where I was still meeting many interesting people, sharing views on the EU review and discussing many aspects of advocacy and human rights work. It was truly pleasant again to be there.
The next day I travelled back to the Netherlands, and started to digest the load of information and feelings that I had obtained by this EU review.
Now, I am finally finalizing the experience. I managed to get my head around this very intense session, including the hopes and other feelings it brought me. I do keep my hopes up high.
Tomorrow, 7 September 2015the Concluding Observations of the CRPD Committee on the EU will come out (and should be available here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=995&Lang=en ) , and we will hopefully see some clear recommendations directed to the EU concerning the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities, since the issues have been raised quite persistently throughout the entire review session. And I still have the hope that the EU can change, and that they can make change happen in the lives of so many people. I believe that Europe could become a true role model in upholding human rights, which puts human rights over bureaucracy or profit-making, and which incorporates a deep respect to the fundamental dignity, rights and freedoms of each person in the EU in all aspects of any action. That is my “European Dream”, and I am very curious to see how the EU will eventually follow up with actions after this review process by the UN CRPD Committee. The guiding questions of the CRPD Committee pointed out several areas where the EU can take their competence further to uphold and advance human rights, especially also including the rights of persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities. The CRPD Committee really did a great job in pushing and stretching the legal boundaries and they offered a very professional further exploration of the responsibilities and roles of the EU.
I learned an incredible lot about EU’s layers of policy making in regards of the rights of persons with disabilities, and although the EU often dodged the responsibility on our themes with the argument of legal competence, the experts of the UN CRPD Committee stood up for our rights and managed to take a very strong and strategic approach to address the issues of concern within the legal scope of competence of the EU, which is truly empowering and ground breaking for further advocacy. They were not stopped by bureaucratic barriers, and therefore, in my opinion, the UN CRPD Committee did make this session a truly historic session by pushing towards new dimensions to include the rights of all persons with disabilities. We clearly share the same European Dream! Now let’s hope that the EU makes it come true.
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