EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Belgium wants citizens’ initiative deal by December‘:

There are already reasons to doubt that citizens’ voices will be heeded.

In 2007, persons with disabilities, united in Europe under the umbrella of the European Disability Forum, pre-empted the legal right to a citizens’ initiative later awarded by the Lisbon Treaty.

In the space of just nine months, they collected an impressive 1,364,984 signatures in support of comprehensive European disability-specific, anti-discrimination legislation.

The signatures were presented to EU policymakers at a public event, at which the European Commission admitted having failed to protect Europeans with disabilities from discrimination.

It promised to do more. But it never so much as issued a public statement acknowledging receipt of the signatures. Nor has it yet outlined plans to follow up on the initiative.

This was an unprecedented campaign, yet it created relatively little stir, and the 65 million Europeans with recognised disabilities are still waiting to get their voices heard. Would the reaction to such an initiative be any different now that this right is legally enforceable?

Janina Arsenjeva & Aurélien Daydé

European Disability Forum


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