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European Disability Strategy (2010-2020)


A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe for Disabled Persons — COM(2010) 636 final



It lays out a strategy to empower people with disabilities so that they can fully enjoy their rights and participate in society and the economy on an equal basis with others.

The strategy builds upon the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and it also complements Europe 2020 (the EU’s strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth) and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Lisbon Treaty.


There are 8 areas for joint action between the EU and EU countries highlighted in this strategy:

Accessibility: ensuring that people with disabilities have access to goods, services and assistive devices;

Participation: ensuring that people with disabilities can exercise all their fundamental rights as European citizens;

Equality: ensuring that policies are implemented (both at EU and national level) that promote equality;

Employment: ensuring an increase in the number of disabled workers in the labour market, and ensuring better accessibility to workplaces;

Education and training: ensuring that disabled pupils benefit from an accessible education system and lifelong learning programmes. The European Commission has already launched several initiatives concerning education, such as the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education;

Social protection: tackling widespread social challenges endured by people with disabilities, such as income inequality, poverty risk and social exclusion. EU Structural Funds and EU countries’ national measures can be used to ensure this social protection;

Health: ensuring that people with disabilities receive equal and affordable access to (mental) health services and facilities;

External action: promoting the rights of people with disabilities at an international level.

In order to best implement the strategy, the EU institutions and EU countries must work together to:

raise awareness of disability-related issues,

develop funding possibilities,

improve statistical data, and

ensure that the UNCRPD is enforced.

The progress of the UNCRPD’s implementation is reported in a 2014 Commission Staff Working Document.


Eighty million people in the EU (one-sixth of the population) have disabilities ranging from mild to severe. These people, who are often prevented by their disability from taking part in society and the economy, have a rate of poverty 70 % higher than the EU average.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe (COM(2010) 636 final of 15.11.2010)


Commission Staff Working Document: Report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the European Union (SWD(2014) 182 final of 5.6.2014)

last update 13.10.2015