"European Funds for all - Investing in people" - Yannis Vardakastanis for Panorama Magazine

11 July 2018

In July 2018, Yannis Vardakastanis was a contributor to the Panorama Magazine, a European Commission's magazine focusing on Cohesion Policy.

The July issue of the magazine was focused on the future Cohesion Policy, post 2020. 

You can read the magazine (PDF) here. Read Yannis contribution below:

 

European funds for all – investing in people 

 

There is no doubt that Cohesion Policy is essential to create a Europe for everybody. Over the years, the Cohesion Policy and funds have made an important contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities, even in Europe’s most remote regions.

However, the post-2020 proposal concerns me. The proposed budget cut will affect Europe’s most disadvantaged, especially in regions where they are most vulnerable. At a time when anti-European sentiment is growing, this reduced budget risks stoking those flames. Furthermore, it risks creating two Europes – those who are prospering and the socially excluded who will be driven further away from the European project.

That said, we acknowledge the Commission’s efforts to simplify the funds.We hope that this simplification will ensure more people with disabilities can access funding and see a real, positive difference in their daily lives. To make this a reality, it is essential that regulations guarantee civil society organisations are meaningfully involved from the very beginning of the process. The provision for partnership must be kept anddefended during negotiations. This is the surest way – the only way – to ensure funds reach the most disadvantaged.

I am also pleased to see that the Commission has kept ex-ante conditionalities and references to the Pillar of Social Rights, the European Social Charter and, of course, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

This year, we finally have universal ratification of the CRPD by the EU and its Member States. Yet, 10 years of austerity have led to a lack of investment in inclusion and poverty reduction. It is estimated that more than 1 million Europeans are living in institutions. We must turn this around.

It is also very worrying that references to accessibility, which were in the last regulations, are absent. Years of effort and progress from the Commission and the disability movement risk being lost. Accessibility is essential for our participation in society. I trust European policymakers will listen to our call and add accessibility in the horizontal principle promoting equality and nondiscrimination, and throughout the regulation.

I want a Europe that includes me. We need a strong Cohesion Policy to make it happen. 

Yannis Vardakastanis,

President European Disability Forum

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