GUE/NGL
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People with disabilities are not subclass citizens

Today, the European Day for Persons with Disabilities, GUE/NGL MEPs have outlined that defending the rights of people with disabilities has been and will remain a top priority for the Group.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer stressed that defending the rights of people with disabilities to fully participate in society was as important as ever, particularly amid cuts to vital social services and disability benefits in many member states.

She said: “Today we live in a Europe which gives tax breaks to big corporations yet at the same time destroys what little social protections remain for society's most vulnerable, including people with disabilities. This is not a Europe that works in the interests of people. We will keep fighting for equality, dignity, and rights. We urge the European institutions to make sure that the EU meets its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

Spanish GUE/NGL MEP Pablo Echenique said: “It is not true that people with disabilities are second-class citizens in Europe; they are third-class citizens and especially so in the southern countries. Not only are cities unfriendly or even hostile to us, not only is air-travel almost a torture, but the most basic rights of people with disabilities are also being systematically violated every single day.”

He continued: “In Spain alone, it is estimated that more than 750,000 people need at least 8 hours per day of personal assistance to be able to carry out their usual daily activities. In many cases such assistance is barely, if at all, provided by the state. As a result people with disabilities are deprived of living an independent life, a basic right of every human being as stated by the UN in 2006. The fight for equal opportunities is everyone's cause and we must win it if we want to live in a decent society which we can be proud of.”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group