European Disability Card to ensure true freedom of movement for Irish people with disabilities – MEP Walsh

The newly passed European Disability Card will ensure Irish people with disabilities have the freedom to travel across the EU and access the supports they are entitled to, MEP Maria Walsh has said. 

The European Disability Card (EDC) was passed in the European Parliament this week, and will act as recognised proof of disability throughout the EU. It will entitle the holder equal access to supports such as discounted tickets, reserved seating, free travel, and personal assistance across the European Union. 

MEP Maria Walsh was involved in the creation of the EDC as she sits on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), which oversaw the proposal. 

It is one of the flagship initiatives of the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, and builds on a successful pilot project which took place in eight Member States. 

Maria Walsh, MEP for Midlands-North West, said:  

“As it currently stands, an Irish person with a disability who travels to Spain is not guaranteed access to priority parking, reserved seating, discounted travel or any of the other supports their Spanish counterpart is entitled to

“This causes unnecessary and unfair stress to people with disabilities who travel in Europe. As EU citizens, our rights must travel with us across all 27 member states. 

“We can only claim to have freedom of movement across the EU, when everyone has the ability to travel easily across the continent. The European Disability Card is a key step in ensuring true freedom of movement for all, not just some. 

“The European Disability Card means that EU citizens with disabilities have equal rights to any special conditions or preferential treatment offered by private operators or public authorities to persons with disabilities. 

“In practice, this means that holders of the Card will be guaranteed access to a variety of benefits like public transport passes, free tickets to cultural venues and discounts for gyms and swimming pools – no matter where they go. 

“The Government must sign up to the EDC as a matter of urgency, and begin its rollout in the coming months so that Irish people with disabilities have peace of mind that their rights are secure throughout the EU.”