2015. 01. 15.
MEP Kósa, leader of the intergroup over the last five years, is the first MEP with a disability to become chair of the group. He said that he is pleased to see numerous representatives with disabilities in the current European Parliament, representing different political groups. “We all agree that disability is not an issue of political left or right and will work together so that there is more than one opinion in this field,” the Fidesz MEP said. The Disability Intergroup coordinates work concerning disability issues and brings together MEPs from different parliamentary groups.
The four co-chairs and the eight vice-chairs will guarantee that the intergroup represent more effectively the interests of European citizens with disabilities. Among the co-chairs, Ádám Kósa from the EPP Group and Helga Stevens from ECR are both deaf and use sign-language. Socialist MEP Richard Howitt represents people with dyslexia and learning disabilities, and one of the vice chairs, Marek Plura of the EPP and Pablo Echenique-Robbe of GUE/NGL are physically disabled. Another vice chair, Kostadinka Kuneva, also of GUE/NGL, is blind. The intergroup thus enjoys a broad foundation and its leadership comprises an equal number of men and women. Several disabled persons have a chance to prove themselves and all political groups can work together to advance the cause of disabled people.
Kósa emphasized that as in the past, he would continue to carry out the work professionally, with the same respect to everyone regardless of different opinions and standing points. “There are no expropriated topics or oracles in this issue because we need everybody, every opinion counts,” he said.
On priorities, Kósa highlighted the ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), strengthening support for disability issues in the next seven-year term of structural and development funds, the debate on the anti-discrimination directive draft of the European Council, the speedy acceptance of the regulation on accessible info-communication and settling the case concerning a new set of accessibility measures that has been postponed for years by the European Commission.
Last week, the European Parliament appointed Ádám Kósa to represent the European Parliament within the EU Framework, the body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Besides the Parliament, the EU Framework includes the European Commission, the European Ombudsman, the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Kósa said it will be a great honour and a tremendous task to represent the EP in this high-ranking body.
Background: There are almost 200 political parties from 28 countries represented in the European Parliament, so it is unavoidable that semi-official groups are formed based on issues that transcend the political boundaries of the seven parliamentary groups. Besides disabilities, other intergroups have been formed around bioethics, health- and consumer care and traditional, ethnic minorities. Active since 1980, the Disability Intergroup led by Ádám Kósa is one of the oldest and, with more than 100 members, one of the biggest intergroups in the European Parliament. Almost half of the members come from the European People’s Party.
In the history of the Disability Intergroup, the first time the chair was held by a person with disabilities was in 2009 and 2014 when MEP Kósa, the first deaf Member of the European Parliament, became chair. The disability intergroup has held 15 events over the past five years. In the re-establishment of the intergroup, the EPP Group has had a significant role because, in democratic and secret voting, EPP representatives voted the intergroup initiated by Kósa to 5th place out of more than 40 proposed intergroups.