CoverAGE - Issue 120 - December 2011 (Special announcement)
What are your expectations regarding the European Commission’s Accessibility Act, which has just been subject to a public EU consultation, and its impact on citizens’ lives?
“In October 2011, my Report on the Mobility and Inclusion of People with Disabilities was adopted by the European Parliament with a convincing majority. Paragraph 8 states that [the Report] ‘calls for full respect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and support for the principles of Design for All and Universal Design; acknowledges the efforts made by the European Union and the United Nations with respect to legislation aimed at strengthening the full integration of people with disabilities in society but takes the view that more should be done’. However, the recommendations of the entire document should be considered by the Commission regarding the Accessibility Act, as referred to in Point I of the Report: ‘the proposals and approaches within this report to be considered and addressed in the upcoming Commission proposal on a European Accessibility Act’. The Accessibility Act should treat the issue of accessibility not merely as the removal of physical barriers, but in a broader sense. The demographic changes we are facing mean that young people spend more time in education and appear on the labour market at a later age, while it is essential to provide quality jobs for older people to ensure the future competitiveness of the EU.”
How could the upcoming European Year 2012 for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations help promote the issues of accessibility and mobility for all Europeans?
“I have made amendments to legislation in order to allow older people to maintain an active lifestyle and prevent the deterioration of their health. Of all people with disabilities over the age of 70, only 10 per cent have disabilities that they were born with.
As a Member of the European Parliament representing the European People's Party, the role of families, intergenerational solidarity and co-operation between the various generations of a family are a priority to me. An often overlooked aspect of the issue is that it is today-s thirty and forty-year-olds who will be most affected by demographic changes; the full participation of people with disabilities in society is the common interest of all of us."