PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT FOR RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITY AND ACTIVE AGEING

Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana at the high-level disability meeting in Strasbourg

“The Maltese Government has worked wholeheartedly in the disability and social inclusion sectors long before Malta took over the reins of the Council of the EU, and through this experience Malta wants to breathe new life into the debate concerning the European Accessibility Act during this Presidency. This was emphasised by Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana at a conference organised by the European Parliament’s Disability Intergroup on Thursday, at the Parliament building in Strasbourg. At the meeting discussing The European Accessibility Act � state of play, rapporteurs from various committees of the European Parliament participated in the meeting, together with a number of other Members of European Parliament, as well as representatives of the European Commission and of civil society.

Dr Justyne Caruana’s speech was central to the agenda of the conference, both due to the ongoing Maltese Presidency, as well as due to the Maltese Government having been extremely active, during the last three years, at discussions within European fora concerning the field of disabilities. The speech, laying out the work-plan of the Maltese Presidency in this regard, was received extremely well, both by Members of European Parliament present, as well as by representatives of the European Disability Forum. Parliamentary Secretary Caruana made reference to the vital work carried out over the last years at various stages of this debate at all EU levels. She insisted on the need that after having debated matters at length, also from the technical aspect, it was finally time that this matter drew towards a close, so that the Directive could be shortly formalised and enacted.

“Around six million persons with disabilities within Member States have been observing us debating and discussing matters for quite a while, and are eager to see the finalisation of the Directive that would strengthen access to rights that persons with disabilities deserve, within the framework of increased quality of life and human dignity, said Dr Justyne Caruana. She explained that while reservations may be expressed, or economic or social difficulties experienced by individual Member States, it would be most positive and just for all governments to agree on the need for this Directive.

Dr Justyne Caruana appealed to all present to understand that it would not be beneficial should there be fostered the perception that European institutions are losing time and effort engaged in long discussions of a bureaucratic nature, rather than pushing towards deciding upon those matters which so many persons have been expecting to materialise from the EU’s end. Although we must pay attention to making sure the Directive includes all technical, economic, social and legal factors necessary, it is our duty to make haste towards arriving at European legislation that is just and uniformly applicable across all member countries of the Union, exhorted Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana.

As a Government we believe in empowerment. This was explained during a meeting the Maltese cabinet had with the College of Commissioners of the EU, at the same moment at which we also agreed on the need of having a much stronger Union in the social sphere, that would protect all persons resident within it,” continued Dr Caruana. She explained that work geared towards the European Accessibility Act should mirror the same commitment, likewise towards these ends.

She further made reference to how the principal interventions by different leaders during the opening of the Maltese Presidency emphasised that the European Union must both be, and be felt to be, relevant for all of its citizens. She repeated that further motivation towards concluding work on the Directive should serve as proof of how far we aim to increase such relevance.

Finally, Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana made an appeal to the effect that, while understanding difficulties experienced by individual states, we must resolve to overcome them through showing further goodwill, and within reasonable timeframes, in light of the resulting effects this would have on the common good, such effects being able to be enjoyed by millions of persons over the coming years.

Source: Government of Malta