European Taxpayer Money Must Protect the Rights of People with Disabilities

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BRUSSELS—EU Structural Funds should not be used to support the institutionalization of people with disabilities, said the Open Society Foundations in a petition to the European Parliament today. An estimated 1.2 million people with disabilities are confined in long-stay institutions, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe.

Institutionalization violates the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the EU is bound. People living in institutions are isolated and often abused, denied basic rights like education and employment, and deprived of their dignity.

Signed by a coalition of leading international disability rights organizations, self-advocacy groups, and community organizations, the petition also calls for transparency in the Structural Funds process itself, including easy access to data by outside groups. Deliberations lasting through 2013 have begun on the 2014–2020 round of Structural Funds.

EU Member States’ obligations and the misuse of Structural Funds are further detailed in Open Society Foundations’ comprehensive report, The European Union and the Right to Community Living.

This effort is conducted entirely by the Budapest office of Open Society Foundations, using no U.S. funds.