Statement by Commissioner Helena Dalli on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli said:

“This year, we mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at a particularly challenging time. While the pandemic has affected us all, people with disabilities were among those hit the hardest, in particular those living in institutions. Community services and access to essential healthcare were hampered and online schooling and teleworking arrangements were not always accessible to all.

The pandemic was a stark reminder of the barriers that persons with disabilities continue to face on a daily basis in the European Union and beyond.

We must remove those hurdles.

The EU is fully committed to promoting the rights of people with disabilities. Yet despite the progress we have made over the past years, there is still a long way to go.

In view of this, at the beginning of the coming year, the Commission will present the new and enhanced Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We are currently developing the strategy in close consultation with civil society organisations representing persons with disabilities. Their experience, their concerns and their voices matter.

The Commission will keep on working to shape inclusive economies and societies. We will continue to do our utmost, and call on local, regional and national governments to ensure that we all have the rights of persons with disabilities high on our agenda. Only in a joint effort can we successfully remove obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in the economy and society on an equal basis.

A Union of equality is possible, and we must build it together.”


About 87 million people in Europe live with some form of disability. They still face considerable barriers to participation and have a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion. More than half feel discriminated against.

Ten years ago, the European Union concluded the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As the first and only regional organisation to accede to the Convention, it is committed to empowering the persons with disabilities to fully enjoy their rights. In the last decade, the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 paved the way for improvements in several key areas, such as accessibility and passengers’ rights.

The Commission has taken action by proposing of the European Accessibility Act. Inclusion of people with disabilities in our society and economy is also a key principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

For More Information

European Commission webpage on persons with disabilities

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