2011. 12. 19.
As the first and only deaf MEP, I felt greatly hon- oured that, following several months of direct and diversified consultation, my report on the mobility and social inclusion of disabled people was adopted by parliament with a great majority. I paid special attention to cooperating with those concerned (international and Hungarian NGOs), notable experts, as well as EU institutions (diplomats representing the Hungarian presidency, the commission, in particular vice-president Viviane Reding and commissioner László Andor) to ensure that the principle of “nothing about us, without us” will prevail within the European social dialogue.
I have never concealed my opinion that the only possible way to break out of the current crisis is to create more and better jobs and to change consumer habits and approaches. Today nobody would question that people with disabilities have human rights, but these they cannot practice effectively due to physical and social barriers, including lacking accessibility to services and products. It is society, not my or your disability that sets these up. It is society that must change to enable the active participation of every human being, regardless of his or her condition.
Few would have thought that the targets of the EU 2020 strategy would become ever more ambitious as the crisis deepens. One of the solutions to the crisis could be to increase the level of employment among the 80 million people with dis- abilities living in the EU. This is, in fact, in accordance with a 2009 council resolution on ensuring their increased involvement in the labour market. Currently the percentage of employment among people living with disability is quite low on a European level. A mere 40-45 per cent of them are working, and the situation in poorer member states is worse. Even in the current situation, an approximate increase of one per cent per annum would be necessary to achieve the goal of the EU 2020 target of 75 per cent. Would it be possible?
On the one hand, a 2007 International Labour Organisation study states that employees with a disability are capable of achieving remarkable results if they are given work in accordance with their skills, abilities and interests. What is more, they are also far more loyal to their employers. Even more surprisingly, a European commission document claims that employers may achieve a return of up to 27 times more than what they spent on providing reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability. On the other hand, at a public hearing organised with the EPP, vice-president Reding confirmed that in order to gear up the process, the commission will propose a new accessibility act by the end of 2012. So why is this proposal important? An ageing society will present us with challenges previously never seen before. This is a process that mainly concerns not only people with disabilities but those without disabilities now in our 30s and 40s. The value of accessible services will increase in the near future and if these don’t become part of our everyday life, the number of people forced to the forsaken periphery of society will be more than 80 million. Accessibility measures, prevention, workplace security and labour safety will play an ever greater role alongside the promotion of an independent lifestyle. The time has come for our environment to adapt to people. The international day of persons with disabilities takes place on 3 December. Let us think of this then.
(Parliament Magazine 5 December 2011)