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Spain assumes the Presidency of the Council of the EU: new approach to disabled people’s rights
16 Aug 2023

On July 1, Spain assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will last until the end of the year. It is a rotating charge between the Member States that has a 6 month duration and was previously held by Switzerland.


The Spanish Presidency has determined four priorities: reindustrializing the EU and guaranteeing its open strategic autonomy, moving forward in the green transition and the environmental adaptation, promoting more social and economic justice and strengthening European feel of unity. The third established priority is directly related to people with disabilities, in fact it is specified that it seeks to promote “the expansion of workers rights in various fields and of vulnerable groups such as children, women who suffer from gender-based violence and people with disabilities”.


In this context, the new Presidency has also shown its interest to work for the approval of the European Disability Card, which will provide a simple way to recognize a person’s disabled status in the different countries of the European Union. It unifies criteria and gives access to the owner to preferential conditions in some services all over the EU. The main purpose is to ease the mobility of disabled people through European territory.


The use of this card was first tested in a pilot project that started in 2016 and ended in 2019. Once completed, all the countries that participated maintained the use of the card due to its positive outcome. The card exists (still in a pilot project status) in 8 EU countries: Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Romania and Slovenia; which means that only the residents of these countries can obtain it and, in turn, it is only valid on those that are part of the project. If approved, the card would be voluntary and grant some benefits to its associates, mainly in sports, cultural and leisure activities. The European Commission is expected to submit a proposal to implement this project in September 2023.


Our partner European Disability Forum is one of the leading promoters of the European Disability Card. This organization brings together other representative entities of people with disabilities from across Europe. It was founded in 2006 to guarantee that decisions concerning disabled people that were made at an European level are made with and by people who have disabilities. Its aim is to defend  the rights of people with disabilities and their total inclusion in society.