The EDC aims at promoting accessibility for persons with disabilities and their inclusion in society. The project responds to a request by persons with disabilities and their representative associations and is part of an initiative of the European Commission which co-financed the launching of the card.
Eight EU Member States participate in the development of this card : Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Romania.
The idea of a European Disability Card is not new and has been discussed on several occasions on a European level. From the very beginning Belgium has expressed its readiness to collaborate on such an initiative.
It is worth recalling that:
- the initial request originated with the BDF (Belgian Disability Forum) and was subsequently adopted by the EDF (European Disability Forum);
- the Eurecard – a service card legitimating the right of persons with disability in the Euregion Maas-Rhein to benefit from discounts and advantages in touristic, cultural and sportive domains – is an initiative of Belgium's German-speaking Community;
- the federal coalition agreement of 1 December 2011 provided for such a card, named Handipass.
Following a European Commission call for projects Belgium has submitted a project proposal for a European Disability Card in September 2015. After its validation, an agreement was signed with the European Commission in December 2015. This agreement confirmed the project's priorities and objectives as well as the conditions for European cofinancing. All Belgian public institutions have expressed their readiness to help realize the European Disability Card.
Given the distribution of competences as far as the policy for persons with disabilities is concerned, all ministers involved have unanimously agreed to collaborate on the project. Five public institutions will oversee the execution of the project:
- FPS Social Security (federal state);
- AViQ (Agence pour une vie de qualité) (Walloon Region);
- VAPH (Vlaams Agentschap voor personen met een handicap) (Flanders);
- PHARE (Personne handicapée – Autonomie recherchée) (Commission of the French Community);
- de DSL (Dienststelle für Selbstbestimmtes Leben) (German-Speaking Community).
The English version of the European Commission call for projects refers to the "Disability Card", whereas the French version uses the term "Invalidity Card" – presumably a translation error, since the two terms have different meanings. In order to avoid misunderstandings, we have opted for the English term Disability Card.