President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, delivered the opening speech at the 4th European Parliament of Persons with Disabilities. The event, organised together with the European Disability Forum, was held in the plenary chamber in Brussels on December 6.

“Our commitment to improve the lives of persons with disabilities is founded in our values as Europeans, including our attachment to freedom, equality and inclusion of all individuals in society. These values have to be translated into concrete actions, to enable every person to live an independent life, and to make sure that our society empowers everyone.”

The event brought together more than 700 activists and delegates from organisations representing persons with disabilities from across Europe, as well as MEPs and representatives of other EU institutions.

The debate focused on how to ensure that persons with a disability can fully participate in society.

“We cannot accept that there are still Europeans restricted from their right to vote due to a disability. The situation is not reassuring in all member states, for this reason I wrote to all heads of state to see to the guarantees of democratic participation in the upcoming European elections,” said Tajani.

Nearly one in six people aged 15 or above in the EU lives with some kind of disability and this is expected to increase due to Europe’s ageing population.