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EURORDIS: Commission’s Disability Card plans are promising, but implementation will be key

September 2023

6 September 2023, Brussels –  EURORDIS – Rare Diseases Europe welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for an EU Disability Card, which will facilitate the access of persons with disabilities to some services while travelling within the EU.

The Commission is proposing an EU Disability Card that will facilitate access to a range of services which offer preferential conditions for persons with disabilities. With this Card, when travelling within the EU, EU nationals will access such services under the same conditions as citizens of the visited EU country.

Responding to the Commission’s proposal for the EU Disability Card, Raquel Castro, Social Policy and Initiatives Director at EURORDIS – Rare Diseases Europe, said:

“Our community welcomes the European Commission’s important proposal of an EU Disability Card, as the majority of people living with a rare disease also live with  disabilities. These are often invisible to others or can be easily misunderstood. The Commission’s proposal promises persons living with disabilities more equal opportunities when accessing services across the European Union.

 “We feel very reassured by the Commission’s choice to use binding legislation that commits Member States to the same goals relating to the EU Disability Card’s implementation.

“However, the success of the directive will majorly depend on a monitoring framework which keeps track of whether eligible individuals can access the card and can indeed enjoy preferential conditions thanks to the card when using services.

“We are very pleased that the Commission has proposed that the Disability Card should cover the services, activities and facilities in each country which already offer preferential conditions to persons with disabilities. However, we agree with the European Disability Forum that the proposal should have been more ambitious.

“In particular, the proposal falls short of granting equal recognition of benefits in a number of services and activities, such as EU mobility programmes, that would have better ensured that persons with disabilities could actually live and work in another EU country on an equal basis with other citizens. We therefore count on  EU policymakers to expand the scope of the Commission’s ambition to truly facilitate the rights of all citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU.

“The EU Disability Card is an important step in the right direction. We encourage EU policymakers to recognise that the success of the Card will greatly hinge on national governments improving disability assessments and recognition processes.

Disability assessments do not fall within the competence of the EU, but we persist in advocating for the establishment of EU-wide disability assessment principles and tools. This is essential to ensure that no EU citizen with a disability is excluded from such initiatives aimed at promoting equitable societal participation.”

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About EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe

EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe is a unique, non-profit alliance of over 1,000 rare disease organisations from 74 countries that work together to improve the lives of the 30 million people living with a rare disease in Europe. By connecting people, families and rare disease groups, as well as by bringing together all stakeholders and mobilising the rare disease community, EURORDIS strengthens the patient voice and shapes research, policies and services.


Julien Poulain

Communications Manager 

EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe 

+33 6 42 98 14 32