Towards the Creation of an Equal Europe The Intergovernmental Conference
The Intergovernmental Conference
European Network on Independent Living
On December 13, Prime Ministers from the 15 Member States of the European Union will come together in Dublin when the Intergovernmental conference in Ireland reaches its climax. At this Summit, John Bruton, the Irish Prime Minister (Ireland currently holds the Presidency of the EU), will present to the other Prime Ministers an outline draft of the new European Treaty, containing revisions to the Maastricht Treaty. Over the course of the coming months, each Member State will examine the outline Treaty with a view to producing a final treaty next year. This new Treaty will directly affect the lives of disabled people throughout Europe.
For us, people with disabilities, the importance of this new Treaty cannot be over-stated. The emergence of a new Treaty provides all 15 Member States with the opportunity to Include an Anti-Discrimination Clause that would finally make discrimination of people with disabilities illegal throughout Europe.
The current situation, however, is that only two countries, Ireland and Greece, have given a written Commitment to the Inclusion of this vital clause. The other 13 have so far failed to do so.
The Stockholm Resolution
The European Network on Independent Living, the leading pan-European network of centers for Independent Living, is calling on all EU Member States to support the inclusion of an Anti-Discrimination clause in the new Treaty.
"We, the participants at the conference of the European Network on Independent living, on Direct Payments for Personal Assistance in Stockholm from 9 - 11 June 1996, as representatives of the Independent Living Movement in twelve European Union Countries and five other European Countries, adopted the following.
Considering the statement of EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn that 40 million EU citizens with a disability were systematically discriminated against in the activities of daily living;
Noting the report of the Reflection Group of the EU, demanding the inclusion of a general Anti-discriminatory Clause for persons with disabilities in the Maastricht Treaty;
Re-emphasising that the President of the EU Parliament Klaus Haensch and other EU Commissioners supported the inclusion of an Anti-Discrimination Clause for disabled persons;
Recalling the Resolution of the EU Parliament on the 14 December 1995 requesting the European Commission and the Member States of the EU to include an Anti-Discrimination Clause for disabled persons in the revision of the EU Treaties in the intergovernmental Conference;
We, as disabled persons, demand the support of all national Governments and their representatives at the Intergovernmental Conference for the inclusion of a revised Anti-Discrimination Clause in Article 6 of the Maastricht Treaty. The proposed revised wording of the Anti-Discrimination Clause is:
"Within the scope of application of this Treaty, and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or religion shall be prohibited".
For the purpose of this Treaty, discrimination is defined as violation or disadvantage in the development of persons in equal opportunities in life, society and self-determined lifestyle. Every plan and action must be governed by the principle of equal rights.
"The EU must take into consideration in all activities governed by the treaty, the rights and needs of disabled people".
It is imperative that people with disabilities in each EU Member State lobby their own representatives to include this Clause in the new treaty. Now is the time to influence them. We are asking you to:
- Write to your Intergovernmental Conference representative, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister, asking for their support.
- Write to other disability organisations, asking them to write to the above people for the same purpose.
- Write to anyone else you can think of who you feel could lend their support to the inclusion of an Anti-Discrimination Clause in the new Treaty.
- Where you find that your Government is not supporting the Clause, join forces with other disability organisations and lobby the Government to change its view. We urge you to take direct action if necessary to make them support the Clause.
We are challenging you, our elected representatives, to bring about the creation of an Equal Europe. The first step in doing this is to support - in writing - the inclusion of an Anti-Discrimination Clause in the new Treaty.
What is an Intergovernmental Conference?
An Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) is the term for negotiations between the Governments of the Member States, required to amend the Treaties founding the EC and EU. Such amendments require unanimous agreement. The Member States negotiate as distinct sovereign powers, not as members of the Council. An IGC is chaired by whichever Member State happens to hold the presidency of the Council at the time. Ireland holds the presidency for the remainder of 1996 and the Netherlands will take over in 1997.
Why is the IGC Being Held?
The IGC is being held because the Maastricht Treaty provided for one in 1996, to review the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the decision-making procedures and the question of giving the Union more powers. It also aims to tackle challenges such as enlargement to take in Central and Eastern European Countries; Economic and Monetary Union (the single currency); and employment.
European Network on Independent Living (ENIL)
ENIL is the organisation of the Independent Living Movement in Europe, and is registered as a non-profit making membership organisation in Stockholm, Sweden. ENILs purpose is to improve the situation of persons with disabilities through
- promoting individual empowerment
- developing and supporting the Independent Living Movement in Europe
- reducing legislative, attitudinal and practical barriers
- diminishing personal dependence
- improving opportunities for full participation in society
ENIL works towards building a closer network among disabled people and their organisations for Independent Living on a local, national and European level in order to improve co-operation, disseminate information and advocate for members rights.
MEMBERS OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES GROUP
Philippe de Schouteete de Tervarent
Javier Elorza Cavengt
Francisco Seixas Da Costa
Marcelino Oreja Aguirre
For further information, contact:
John Evans, ENIL Chairperson. United Kingdom
Tel/Fax: (country code)+1730-268586
Adolf Ratzka, ENILBoard Member, Stockholm, Sweden.
Tel: (country code)+8-7404200
Fax: (country code)+8-7404500
Christian OReilly, CIL Dublin, Ireland.
Tel: (country code) +01-8722419
Fax: (Country code) +01-8721040