THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the European Commission's initiative to establish a common standardised model for the European Disability Card (EDC) and the European Parking Card for people with disabilities (EPC) as an effective measure in facilitating freedom of movement with the greatest possible independence for people with disabilities and the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding access to goods and services available to the public;
- stresses the need to precisely define the scope of this Directive because of different procedures and different arrangements in the Member States in asserting preferential treatment, and to clearly define the services and activities covered by this Directive which should be differentiated from services and activities in the field of social security, social protection or social assistance not covered by this Directive;
- recommends expanding the EDC to cover social security services during transition periods when it comes to studying or recruiting persons with disabilities in another Member State. This extension is proposed not only for the period until full entitlement is established in the new Member State, but also for short stays like youth exchanges, student exchanges, internships, professional training, etc. This is crucial, as individuals with disabilities relocating to another country often face gaps in social security entitlements;
- stresses the relevance of local and regional authorities (LRAs) in the effective implementation of the Directive, and in particular of public authorities in tourist destinations, in accordance with their competences, which may include, e.g. ensuring adequate parking spaces, controlling access to services, activities and facilities for card holders, ensuring regular checks to prevent abuse, etc.;
- stresses the need for strong and continuous cooperation of LRAs with service providers and to consider the significant role of the LRAs in collecting feedback, improving the effectiveness and usefulness of the cards and sharing best practices about the implementation of the cards;
- stresses that the EDC should complement the proof of disability issued at national level and issued separately, and that the issuing of the card, both in physical and electronic form, should be free of charge to all users, at their request, and that this framework will address the proof of disability status in all Member States.