Starting January 2001, Sweden has been chairing the European Union which has entailed a lot of work but also many possibilities to influence policies, proposals, activities etc. in the EU and also in the accession candidate countries. In order to make use of the chairmanship the Swedish Rheumatism Association and some of the other DPOs (Disabled People’s Organisations) in Sweden have started a project.
The project “The EU Secretariat 2001 of the Swedish Disability Movement” was started precisely in order to put focus on disability perspectives in the EU, by influencing public opinion, spreading information and increasing knowledge. The Secretariat will also arrange a European conference on the UN Standard Rules in April in Linkoeping in Sweden and offer accessibility advice to organisers of meetings and conferences during the Swedish presidency.
The project has been funded by the Swedish Inheritance Fund. The secretariat has been situated in Stockholm in connexion to the offices of The Swedish Co-operative Body of Organisations of Disabled People, abbreviated HSO in Swedish. The project has been led by a steering group, where among other, the Swedish Rheumatism Association, the SRA, has been represented.
Whereas the Swedish presidency in the EU focuses on the three Es Enlargement, Employment and Environment, the disability movement has chosen to interpret Environment more broadly and incorporate Accessibility into the concept.
The secretariat has published some useful booklets, for instance one called “Disability perspective in the EU – a challenge to the Swedish Presidency”.in which the Swedish disability movement presents suggestions on how the EU can work to strengthen the civil rights of disabled people in the member states. By using the suggestions as a base during the Presidency Sweden can contribute to an increasing EU- responsibility for the living conditions of disabled people in Europe.
Please see www.hso.se/EU-secretariat.html/ for more information.