European Elections, European Semester, Smart travel and the CEDAW: European Disability Forum’s General Assembly explained

5 June 2019

Around 200 participants gathered in Brussels on the 1 and 2 June for the European Disability Forum’s General Assembly. It was preceded by the conference “Smart travel: Partnership and technology making European travel more accessible” and followed by a workshop on how to engage with the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women to promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities, attended by around 50 people.

The events were livestreamed to an audience of around 200 people, with interpretation in international sign and real time captioning (watch Day 1 here; watch day 2 here)

Smart travel conference


During the conference policy makers, industry representatives and persons with disabilities brought together their experience and expertise to showcase good practices on accessible travel. Through discussion it became clear that involving persons with disabilities from the beginning both in the policy development and in the design of transport and travel services is a win-win situation. The example of how a mobile application, “DB Barrierefrei”, can make train travel easier illustrates also how technology has the potential to transform how we travel. However, these technologies need to be usable, affordable, and accessible to persons with disabilities.

The conference was only possible with support European Commission and Amadeus, and we thank ACI-Europe for the ongoing cooperation.

General Assembly

Election of board members

The General Assembly elected two new board members: Luisa Bosiso and Francisco Vañó Ferre.

European Semester

Katerina Ivankovic-Knezovic

The General Assembly included a workshop on the European Semester, with a keynote speech by Katerina Ivankovic-Knezovic, the Director responsible for social affairs in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs. She spoke about the Commission’s commitment to the EU Pillar of Social Rights and presented some of the key advances to emerge from the European Disability Strategy. She recognised the input of EDF and its members in the adoption of the European Accessibility Act, and also our disappointment at its scope. She underlined that we now have an important task: its implementation. 

During the workshop participants received practical guidance on how to use the European Semester to influence national policy from speakers such as Elena Schubert and Simona Giarratano from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs, and Katerina Nanou from Eurochild. Speakers underlined the importance of members contacting national desk officers to make sure they are aware of priorities for persons with disabilities and to increase the possibilities of these being considered both in country reports and in recommendations (list link)

European Elections

The General Assembly discussed the results of the European Elections campaigns several members led at European and national level. EDF unanimously  adopted a resolution calling for the re-establishment of the Disability Intergroup.  

Meaningful participation and structured dialogue

The General Assembly also advanced our work on civic dialogue and meaningful participation in policy making. Drawing on experts in civic and social dialogue will enhance our work in this field.  Ms. Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform and member of the Steering Committee of Civil Society Europe and Ms. Marina Monaco, European Trade Union Confederation Adviser advised us based on their experience and  will draw up recommendations on this issue to promote the implementation of the CRPD at the EU and national levels;

EDF in the World- advancing our strategy for international cooperation

Panelists on the EDF in the World session including Pat Clarke, Ana Lucia Arellano and Catherine Naughton

Ms Ana Lucía Arellano, Chair of International Disability Alliance presented the work of the Alliance and how EDF is involved in it.

Progress towards the implementation of EDF in the world strategy was presented. It includes the preparation of a guidance note about the role of organisations of persons with disabilities in international cooperation. The document will give recommendations for organisations of persons with disabilities, donor countries, government agencies and INGOs. (A specific workshop on this topic was held on June 3rd)

Approval of annual work programme and financial accounts

Delegates approved the final report and the accounts for 2018 and the work plan and budget for 2020.

Raymond Ceccoto (ARFIE) and Jamie Bolling (ENIL) were appointed as internal auditors for 2019.

Workshop on the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Panelists for session on the UN Committee on the Eliminiation of Discrimination Against Women

The seminar included a keynote by Ana Peláez Narváez, EDF Vice-President and member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Participants discussed how to use the Convention and the Committee for the defence of the rights of women and girls with disabilities. The seminar included examples from Belgium, Lithuania, Italy, Finland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and an intervention from a delegation from India, explaining their practical experience in advancing rights of women with disabilities, through self-defence classes and education on marriage, for example.

EDF encouraged members to be more involved in the work of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Committee and will prepare a booklet with practical information on how to do so.

You can find the photos of the events on Flickr



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