EU will boost free movement for persons with disabilities

On 6 September, the European Commission (EC) announced a legislative proposal aimed at ensuring better access to mobility for persons with disabilities. The proposed Directive would establish a standardised European Disability Card and upgrade the existing European Parking Card for persons with disabilities, both valid throughout the EU.

POLIS is assessing the potential impacts of the proposal for local authorities. The network will liaise with European Parking Association (EPA) and consider a common position.

Unequal access

Currently, when persons with disabilities travel within the EU, they risk losing access to the special conditions and preferential treatment that they count on at home, namely free or reduced fairs, prioritised access, reduced transport fees, and personal assistance. This is because their disability status may not recognised by the authorities in other Member States.

Disability cards for mobility, parking, and beyond

The EC’s new proposal envisages a European Disability Card that would serve as proof of disability across the EU, thereby protecting the right of persons with disabilities to access services such as public transport, museums, sports centres, and amusement parks while abroad. In addition, updates to the European Parking Card would allow persons with disabilities to substitute their national parking cards for a common EU-wide parking card.

To ensure the success of the proposed Directive, Member States will be required to:

  • Provide physical and digital versions of both cards
  • Make the conditions and rules for issuing and withdrawing the cards accessible to all
  • Oblige service providers to give clear indications on special conditions and preferential treatment for persons with disabilities

In case of violation of one or more of the Directive’s provisions, Member States will also be required to:

  • Provide legal recourse to persons with disabilities, their representative organisations, and relevant public bodies under national law
  • Impose fines and corrective measures

POLIS and EPA to draft joint position

Together with the EPA, POLIS will establish a common position on the proposed Directive. Issues to address include the foreseen transition period, the ability to prevent fraudulent use, and the future-proofing of the concept. The latter concern is related to a lacking proposal for digital copies and solutions that can facilitate verification, certification and translation(s) of the proposed documents. Such a lack potentially hinders the integration of exemptions into digital registrations of parking passes or urban access schemes.

In particular, the Parking Working Group at POLIS will investigate possible benefits and limitations of the new, enhanced European Parking Card.

If you are interested in contributing to the joint position, please contact Ivo Cré and Niklas Schmalholz.


Content adapted from the European Commission’s press release from 6 September 2023.