The article 26 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights provides for all the European citizens’ the right to free movement. The number of EU citizens suffering from some kind of disability is approximately 80 million and they have so far faced barriers in fully enjoying their right to free movement. Whereas disabled people may enjoy some benefits in their country of origin, such benefits cannot be transferred when these people move to another EU member state.
Establishing a European Disability Card to provide some benefits is considered one out of many measures taken to help overcome the above stated barriers and ensure achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy and those of European Disability Strategy. Furthermore, it ensures equal access to some specific benefits in the field of culture, tourism, entertainment, sports and transports.
The European Union has developed a system mutually recognized relying upon the European Disability Card. This means that the card is mutually recognized by the EU member states involved in this system voluntarily (see Benefits in other countries) in order that the disabled people may move easily from one EU member state to another.
This card shall not entail any modification of the national eligibility criteria or the national laws on services and in general on the benefits given by each member state to its disabled citizens. The member states may in their discretion designate those who will be entitled to become holders of this card, by providing a definition of disability to this end in the national laws or regulations. Each card holder shall be entitled to get the benefits given by the state, of which he/she is citizen, whenever he/she uses this card.
Beneficiaries: persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others and which are certified by the Evaluation Centres of the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, as moderate, severe or complete disability.
The DSIPD has already established a network amongst collaborating institutions: Departments and Services of the public sector, local authorities, private institutions and representatives of disabled people’s organizations, in order to promote and implement the project. The Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities forms with the collaborating institutions, the list of benefits provided by the card to the beneficiaries.
The list of benefits may grow longer from time to time accordingly, following consultation with the benefit providers.
Those who are interested may apply to the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities by filling out the stated form and attach the relevant certificates.
The approval or rejection decision on the application is made by the Director of the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities or on his behalf by a Department’s authorized officer. Such decision is taken after a brief assessment and an interview by an ad hoc evaluation committee, which will give opinions and advise the Department on certifying a disability and complying with the definition of the beneficiary.
The Special Assessment Committee shall consist of at least two (2) doctors or other health and rehabilitation professionals with specialties related to the applicant's disability.
No further certification is required for the beneficiaries receiving the following benefits, unless this is deemed necessary:
The issue of the Disabled Person Booklet that was issued until 2009 by the former Care Services for the Disabled People under the Department of Labour and from 2009 to present by the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities από το 2009 shall be suspended upon the European Disability Card becoming in force.
It is presumed that the issued Disabled Person Booklets will remain in force for the purposes they are used. Yet they will not be in force for the European Disability Card benefits.