European disability card and a European parking card for persons with disabilities

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The Directive was proposed by the Commission in September 2023.

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 or entitlement to specific services based on a disability.

Karine Lalieux, Minister for Pensions and Social Integration, with responsibility for Persons with Disabilities, the Fight against Poverty and for Beliris

Today’s agreement, reached in record time during the Belgian presidency, marks a transformative step towards a more accessible and equitable society. It reaffirms the EU’s commitment to fostering inclusivity for all citizens within our diverse Union.

Karine Lalieux, Minister for Pensions and Social Integration, with responsibility for Persons with Disabilities, the Fight against Poverty and for Beliris

Main elements of the compromise text

The provisionally agreed text maintains and reinforces the aim of the directive, which is to ensure equal access to special conditions or preferential treatment provided to persons with disabilities during short stays across the EU, such as reduced or zero entry fees, priority access, assistance and reserved parking spaces.

Further elements agreed upon during interinstitutional negotiations include the following:

  • member states shall extend the usage of the European disability card for periods longer than a short stay in the context of EU mobility programmes, and may also choose to do so in other instances
  • the European Disability card will be issued and renewed free of charge, except in cases of loss or damage; member states may choose to charge a fee relating to the administrative costs for the issuance or renewal of the European Parking Card
  • the letter A can be added to the European Disability Card for persons with disabilities with an increased need for support or who are entitled to support by a personal assistant
  • both cards will contain a QR code to prevent fraud
  • an EU website, available in all languages and in accessible formats, will provide relevant information on the two cards; member states will also have to provide information on the cards to the public in accessible formats
  • the digital format of the European Parking Card for persons with disabilities will remain optional for member states

A harmonised European Disability Card and the improved European Parking Card will ensure easier recognition of disability status and equal access to special conditions and preferential treatment across the EU, during short-term stays in other EU countries. These cards will facilitate the mobility of persons with disabilities. No matter if you are a cardholder in Spain traveling in Poland or a Polish resident, the card will guarantee access on the same terms.

The main elements of the Directive include:

  • Recognising the European Disability Card as proof of disability across the EU. During short-term stays in other EU countries, persons with disabilities will be guaranteed equal access to special conditions and preferential treatment with respect to public and private services, activities and facilities. This may include priority access, reduced fees, personal assistance, and braille or audio guides for transport, cultural events, museums, leisure and sport centres as well as amusement parks. The card complements existing national cards or certificates and acknowledges the role of each Member State in assessing disability status.
  • Providing European Parking Card holders with the same parking rights across the EU. The European Parking Card ensures equal access to designated reserved parking spaces and other parking conditions and facilities. It replaces the EU parking card for people with disabilities created on voluntary basis through a Council Recommendation. To address issues of inconsistent recognition across the EU , the improved European Parking Card uses a common binding template. It also includes security features to prevent forgery and fraud.
  • Requiring Member States to issue and renew the European Disability Card free of charge, in both physical format (with digital features) and in digital format.
  • Requiring Member States to issue and renew the European Parking Card free of charge, or for a small fee to cover the administrative costs, in a physical format with digital features. Each Member State may provide this card also in digital format.
  • Ensuring publicly accessible information on the conditions and procedures for obtaining these cards, as well as general information about the special conditions and preferential treatment offered to persons with disabilities. Each Member State will establish a dedicated website for this purpose. In addition, the EU will also create a dedicated website linking to all national webpages.
  • Guaranteeing enforcement and compliance by empowering persons with disabilities and their representatives to take legal action under national law. Member States must establish mechanisms for these legal actions and implement fines and corrective measures for violations.

After the formal agreement by the European Parliament and the Council in the coming months, the Directive will enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Within 30 months after the entry into force Member States will have to incorporate the provisions of the Directive into national law.

One year later, the legislation will take effect, at which point persons with disabilities can apply for the cards.

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