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The ENIL/DubIin CIL Direct Payments Experts’ Meeting

Portleish 29 November - 1 December 1996

presented by John Evans, Chair European Network on Independent Living

The ENIL Direct Payments Experts' meeting to be held in Ireland from the 29 November to the 1 December 1996 at the Montague hotel in Portleish, is a collaborative initiative between the European Network on Independent Living (ENlL) and the Centre for Independent Living (CIL) Dublin. It was conceived and planned in September by a working party with representatives from both organisations. The intention was to organise an event that would bring together key thinkers and activists of the Independent Living movement of Europe so that collectively we could progress the important issues of personal assistance and direct payments schemes at an international level. The focus will be on three areas:

Independent Living and Direct Payments together with the struggle for fully comprehensive civil rights legislation are the two most important issues for the disability movement not only in Ireland and Europe but for the whole world. Independent Living was created, pioneered and developed by disabled people so it is crucial that this remains to be the case, in spite of whatever social, economic, legislative and political changes occur in Europe. This forthcoming Experts' Meeting is not only an affirmation of this principle but also a consolidation in reviewing our past experience in order to establish new platforms for our future work.

Direct Payments obviously represents the most desired method of delivery for personal assistance schemes because it maximises consumer control and choice through self-determination. However, as different countries produce different kinds of legislation it is important that we produce quality measures and standards to help counter any abuse or exploitation as independent service providers and private agencies cash in on the personal assistance market.

With the uncertainty of the future of disability programmes in the EU now in the post-HELIOS era it is even more important that European disability controlled organisations like Disabled Peoples' International (DPI), ENIL and others exert a prominent role in policy making on disability issues in Europe in the future. Progress has been made recently in the EU but we do not want to lose this momentum so that in this time of flux a meeting like this Experts' Meeting bringing together people from many EU countries with their invaluable expertise takes on an even more added significance.

ENIL is Particularly pleased to be holding this important meeting in Ireland at this time, which is only 10 days after the Irish government launched its unique and far reaching Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities called "A Strategy for Equality" at its EU Presidency conference in Cork on 18 November. ENIL is also pleased to be working in Partnership again with our Irish colleagues from the Dublin CIL.

Our objective of the Experts' meeting are threefold in that we would like to achieve a Consensus in furthering good quality standards of direct payment and personal assistance schemes throughout Europe, endorsing the concept and furthering the establishment of an ECEDS in the spirit of Partnership and agreeing on some political actions to get a non-discrimination clause enclosed in the EU treaty.

The Experts meeting is sponsored by the Dublin CIL, ENIL and the European Commission.

22 November 1996