The Council of the European Union on Monday (27/11) agreed on the directive establishing the European Disability Card and the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities. The announcement follows the legislative proposal tabled by the European Commission on September 6.
The aim of the directive is to ensure equal access to special conditions or preferential treatment, such as reduced or zero entry fees, priority access, assistance and reserved parking spaces provided to persons with disabilities during short stays across the EU. This includes cultural and leisure events, sports and beach facilities and transport services.
Furthermore, according to the Council’s agreed text, member states can decide to apply the same measures for stays longer than three months, including for EU mobility programs.
National authorities will be responsible for issuing physical and digital European disability cards, in an accessible format. The cards will be recognised throughout the EU as proof of disability.
The Council took into account the principle of multilingualism: member states will be able to issue bilingual cards featuring both English and their national languages. The Council also gave member states the option of including a QR code on the cards, as the most effective and easy-to-implement tool to prevent fraud.
Moreover, to ensure uniform implementation and mutual recognition across the Union, the European parking card will replace all existing parking cards for cross-border mobility within five years from the entry into force of the directive. The parking card will be issued in physical format, in line with the Council’s general approach. Issuing a digital European parking card will remain voluntary for member states.
Both member states and the Commission will be responsible for informing persons with disabilities about the European disability card and the European parking card for persons with disabilities, as well as the special conditions granted to them.
According to the text agreed by member states, an EU website will provide relevant information on the European disability card and the European parking card for persons with disabilities. It will be available in all EU languages and in accessible formats.
The proposed directive is part of the EU’s strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities 2021-2030. It builds on the experience of a pilot project for an EU disability card, which took place in eight member states, and on the already existing European parking card for persons with disabilities, which was based on a previous EU voluntary scheme.
According to the Council, negotiations on the final shape of the directive are expected to start as soon as possible once the European Parliament has voted on its mandate at the beginning of 2024.