European Disability Policy after the Uncrpd: Austerity Measures or Social Investments?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:09
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Rune HALVORSEN, Oslo and Akershus University College, Norway
Bjorn HVINDEN, NOVA, Oslo and Akershus University College, Norway
Kjetil Klette BOHLER, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway
Adopted in 2007 the CRPD is the first UN convention to which the EU has become a party. Never have so many states become a party to a UN convention so fast. However, the CRPD is being implemented in the difficult context of the post-2008 global financial crisis and the current context of austerity and welfare reform across Europe. On this back-drop we ask whether the adoption of the CRPD in 2007 has led to a stronger and more unambiguous commitment to full and effective participation in society of persons with disabilities in Europe.

First, we examine to what extent the political agendas of the EU and European governments have included the goal of promoting the full and effective participation in society of persons with disabilities – and more specifically – the aspects of such participation the authors frame as dimensions of Active Citizenship; opportunities for exercising rights and duties, living independently and making autonomous choices, and participating as individuals and groups in policy making processes of importance to oneself.

Second, we examine what existing comparative data tell us about the diversity and direction of disability policy in Europe. Has the financial crises starting in 2008 and the measures of fiscal consolidation in Europe involved a shift towards austerity in disability policy? Has disability policy in Europe moved in the direction of the kind of Social Investment strategy promoted by the European Union? If we can find trends in direction of one or both of these scenarios, have they affected European countries in the same way or to the same extent?

Third, the paper concludes by identifying the overall trends and some alternative scenarios for the future directions of disability policy in Europe.