Community Living for Disabled People Must Be Made a Priority
Statement of the European Coalition for Community Living European Day of People with Disabilities 2007ust Be Made a Priority
As we mark the European Day of People with Disabilities, the European Coalition forCommunity Living (ECCL) calls on the Member States to take concrete steps to end theinstitutionalisation of people with disabilities by developing alternative services in theirlocal communities. While there has been much progress in promoting equal citizenship forpeople with disabilities in Europe, thousands still live in long-stay residential institutions,isolated from their communities and from the rest of society. Large institutions for peoplewith disabilities are not limited to Europe’s new Member States; they also exist in most ofthe ‘older Member States’. For these people, the concepts of equal opportunities, socialinclusion and respect for human rights are meaningless.Across the European Union, many Member States have adopted policies that promote the socialinclusion of people with disabilities through the closure of institutions and the provision ofcommunity-based services, including those controlled by disabled people. However, contrary tothe European Union’s Disability Action Plan 2006 — 2007¹ and the recently adopted UNConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, new institutions for people withdisabilities continue to be built in the European Union today.This year’s European Day of People with Disabilities conference, held in Brussels on 5 — 6December, focuses on people with disabilities as active players in the Internal Market. It is anopportunity to promote the free movement of people with disabilities and their access toquality social services, as well as other services of general interest. In order to achieve a trulyinclusive society in which people with disabilities have the freedom of movement and theopportunity to contribute to society as everyone else, they must have access to appropriateservices and support in their own local communities. Relevant regulations and policies shouldtherefore be revised so that they promote the development of community-based services moreeffectively². Such services and support must be developed as a matter of priority, using forexample, the EU’s regional structural funding mechanism. Moreover, if people with disabilitiesare to benefit from Europe’s human rights and social inclusion policies, the EuropeanCommission and individual Member States must commit to stop building new institutions forpeople with disabilities, to adopting a specific non-discrimination directive for people withdisabilities and to ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The European Coalition for Community Living (ECCL) is a cross disability initiative which workstowards the social inclusion of people with disabilities by promoting the provision of comprehensive,quality community-based services as an alternative to institutionalisation. ECCL's visionis of a society in which people with disabilities live as equal citizens, with full respect for theirhuman rights. They must have real choices regarding where and with whom to live, choices intheir daily lives and real opportunities to be independent and to actively participate in theircommunities. To this end, ECCL advocates for and monitors progress towards de-institutionalisation inEurope, campaigns for, and provides information on, the development of comprehensive, qualitycommunity-based services and de-institutionalisation. The founding organisations of ECCLare Autism Europe, the Center for Policy Studies of the Central European University, the EuropeanDisability Forum, the European Network on Independent Living, Inclusion Europe, MentalHealth Europe and the Open Society Mental Health Initiative.