The European Parliament has officially adopted, on April 24th, the European Disability Card and Parking Card.(Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)


European Disability Card ‘no game-changer for disabled people’


The European Parliament has officially adopted the European Disability Card and European Disability Parking card, though not everyone is happy.

Many Members of the European Parliament emphasised during parliamentary plenary discussions that the cards represented a significant stride towards equality.

“The EU must advocate for equal rights for persons with disabilities within the EU,” said rapporteur Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová.

The Disability Card “embodies the EU’s commitment to ensuring free movement for all Europeans”, he added.

The European Disability Forum, a pivotal player in the adoption of the European Disability Card, hailed the vote as a “historic moment”.

Despite the warm welcome, many disabled people in the European Union believe card does not represent any “significant change”.


The Disability Card is designed to ensure equal access to benefits for EU travellers including priority access, reduced fees, personal assistance, braille or audio guides while on public transport and easier access to cultural sites and museums.

The Disability Parking Card guarantees equal rights to designated parking spaces and comes with security features intended to prevent forgery.

Despite that, for the user-led network of disabled people ENIL, the card “will not be a game changer when it comes to the freedom of movement of disabled EU citizens”.

Florian Sanden, policy co-ordinator at ENIL, told Brussels Signal the original intention, as announced by the European Commission, was to address the issue of disabled individuals lacking the same freedom of movement as non-disabled persons – problems the new card fails to resolve.

While “facilitating travels the card does not tackle the main difficulty” which is “the access to disability social services”, he said.

Under the Disability Card, disabled people who require special social services still have to have their eligibility officially recognised in the host country – and critics say such recognition can take years.

“Disabled people who need help to get dressed, to prepare food, or to be mobile, cannot wait that long, which means they cannot go to other countries at all,” Sanden said.

“One of my colleagues has to work from Greece because of this problem of lack of cross-border access to services.”

He said the “added value of the European Disability Card is likely to be primarily symbolic”.

Sanden told Brussels Signal that while the EC had pledged to address access to social services once the new European Parliament is elected, he was sceptical about the feasibility of such a commitment.