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FRA: Action needed to ensure that all people with disabilities can vote

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handicap semnePeople with disabilities are active citizens keen to participate in political life given the right opportunities. However, legal, administrative and accessibility barriers can still prevent them from taking part in elections finds the latest research on the rights of people with disabilities from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

Political participation is a basic right that everyone should enjoy equally,” says FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “Yet, FRA’s report underlines that many barriers can undermine the democratic rights of people with disabilities. With European elections around the corner, it is timely reminder that across the EU change is needed to allow all people with disabilities to have an equal say in the political life of our society.

Together with the European Commission, FRA developed a set of human rights indicators on how the right to political participation, as described in the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is being respected, promoted and fulfilled across the EU.

The data which populate these indicators show that given the opportunity people with disabilities actively participate in politics through voting, political meetings and engaging with elected officials. However, the data also reveal that significant challenges remain which affect some people with disabilities more than others.

This led FRA to propose:

  1. Lifting legal and administrative barriers:
    • National disability action plans should address how to promote the political participation of people with disabilities. This includes amending laws depriving people of the right to vote based on their disability.
    • Alternative forms of voting for people in long-term institutions, for example, and accessible ways to request support in voting should also be introduced so no one is excluded from taking part in elections.
    • Complaint mechanisms about voting should also be more accessible. Here allowing disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to bring complaints to court should help.
  2. Making political participation more accessible:
    • Polling stations should cater to the needs of all people with disabilities not just those with physical impairments. This includes offering appropriate support to all those who want to vote.
    • Election information and campaign material should also be available in a wide range of accessible formats – e.g. Braille, national sign-language, easy-to-read, etc.
  3. Expanding opportunities for political participation:
    • Under the CRPD, consulting with and actively involving people with disabilities in decisions affecting them is an obligation. EU bodies and Member States should strengthen mechanisms to involve DPOs.
    • Opportunities for people with disabilities to take part in public consultations, through the use of accessible communications, for example, should be promoted.
    • Candidates with disabilities should also have equal opportunities to run for office by providing additional support where required, for example.
  4. Increasing rights awareness:
    • Election officials, political parties, public authorities and media providers need training and guidelines on how to cater to the needs of people with disabilities.
    • Member States should also involve DPOs when producing such guidelines. This includes tackling inaccessible polling stations and campaign material.
  5. Collecting data to measure political participation:
  • Robust, comparable data needs to be collected at EU and Member State levels to help shape targeted measures that will improve political participation. This includes developing common approaches for capturing such data and guidelines for measuring accessibility.

    For further information:

  • Consult the report summary ‘The right to political participation of persons with disabilities: human rights indicators’, and its related Q&A and the indicators online.
  • Contact: media@fra.europa.eu / Tel.: +43 1 580 30 642

 

 

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Green Village Resort, the Danube Delta impressive location, opened for tourists under maximum safety measures

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© Anca Duse
Green Village Resort opened its gates on May 15th, in maximum safety for its guests, according to an official announcement on the resort’s Facebook page.
The Danube Delta, which most of it lies within Romania, is one of the continent’s most valuable habitats for wetland wildlife and biodiversity. It is a unique ecosystem in Europe and consists of a labyrinthine network of river channels, shallow bays and hundreds of lakes.
Green Village is a stranded location, divided into 3 accommodation areas, located at a great distance from each other, and the access to the rooms is made from outside, without having to go through common halls. Thus, social distancing is ensured by the hotel’s pavilion-type concept and the surface of over 30.000 m² .
Hygiene procedures are strict and strictly observed, both for guests and hotel staff. Dispensers with disinfectant solutions have been installed at all public entrances, and the cleaning of public spaces and their contact surfaces (handles, support bars, etc.) will be performed with a much higher frequency, using professional disinfectants.
As for the Express Check-In procedure, it has been modified so that the interaction with staff or other guests on the spot is reduced as much as possible.
Also, transport by boat will be carried out in accordance with the rules in force, and the serving of meals and drinks will be carried out according to the provisions of the authorities, in the room, on the terraces of the houses, or on the balconies of the rooms.
Last but not least, Green Village Resort assures future guests that the service staff is and will continue to be thoroughly trained in cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Green Village is naturally isolated with access to immense beaches stretched for kilometres, canals where tourists can make a different trip every day, they can fish, walk in nature, watch birds, without meeting any crowds. 

„Even in a normal period, tourists felt safe and enjoyed a quiet vacation. Romania is a growing destination for foreign tourists. Although slower than we want, Romania attracts foreigners, who come here with moderate expectations, but return home beyond enchanted by the landscapes, people, and security that our country offers”, said Dragoș Anastasiu, owner of Green Village Resort.

Last year, more than 40% of our tourists were foreigners. They enjoyed mostly excursions on the canals, fishing, birdwatching, going to the beach and short trips to nearby cities such as Sulina and Tulcea.

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Romania Remains Attractive As Software Outsourcing Destination in COVID-19 times

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Romania is 1ST IN EUROPE and 6TH IN THE WORLD, in terms of number of certified IT specialists. With an estimated 150,000 in 2020, Romania is moving up the diversity spectrum in terms of outsourcing capabilities. The local talent pool has been a main decision factor for evolving from a cost driven approach to a value driven one, Romanian specialists proving to be very resourceful in operating many complex project assignments.

Romania doesn’t offer lowest prices in the outsourcing business, but it is highly competitive when you take into account the level of technical proficiency and soft skills in the country, “superior to what is typically found in other outsourcing locations,” according to IDC.

Romania also benefits from two political factors—its membership in the European Union, and strong institutional support from the government. This includes several tax incentives and breaks, alongside wages that remain highly competitive within the EU (the average minimum wage is the second lowest in the political union). More importantly, membership in the EU comes with more than just financial and security advantages, one example is access to the Horizon 2020 program for Research and Innovation.

As a member state, Romania’s regulations and compliance laws must fall in line with the broader union, meaning that companies have significantly less startup barriers when setting up BPO or ITO offices. Apart from easier setup, this gives companies a much safer framework and infrastructure for financial transactions, as well as access to many of the same financial services and banks available across the West.

We asked one of the local companies what are their thoughts on the Romanian IT sector future and how is the COVID-19 disrupting their business model:

“This highly competitive industry sometimes forces us to ignore the long-term strategy and focus on the quick opportunities. The biggest risk is that we won’t see a lot of Romanian products competitive at global scale any time soon, but definitely in almost every successful project launched today around the World there is at least one Romanian engineer in the team. We give a lot of attention to our Research and Innovation department and we try to keep the right balance between outsourcing and internal products development (chasing our dreams). Regarding the COVID-19 disrupting our business, we just practiced what we preach, we used our entire digital offering on ourselves and we were able to completely switch into remote work during lunch break” says Anamaria POPA, General Manager of Soft Galaxy.

It is not enough for the professionals out there (in institutes, universities, private companies, innovators and entrepreneurs) to press ahead with their work, they need to stand together and promote the Romanian excellence in research and education.

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Vasile Blaga, MEP: I am convinced that the firm measures adopted by the EP against Covid-19 will not stop here. The EPP Group is already working on a strategy for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis economy

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

Vasile Blaga, MEP (PNL, PPE) told caleaeuropeana.ro that the EPP group in the European Parliament is already working on a “very clear strategy” for managing the current crisis generated by the new coronavirus, but also for the rapid recovery of the post-crisis European economy,

The unanimous vote of the European Parliament last week on proposals from the European Commission for the management of the European health crisis shows that the hesitant response at the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic was an accident, explains MEP Vasile Blaga, adding that “the answer came to correct the rather timid initial reaction of the European executive in the beginning of this challenging crisis for Europe and all the other states around the world ”.

The 37 billion euros  (part of the Corona Initiative) allocated to the Member States through the vote in the European Parliament will be directed towards health systems, local communities, small and medium-sized enterprises and economy sectors seriously affected by this crisis.

“The European Union means, first and foremost, solidarity – for better and for worse, and those who support the opposite are either not aware of what is being done at EU level, or have an interest in destabilising the Union,” says Blaga.

The vote in the European Parliament was also aimed at reallocating 800 million euros from the Cohesion Fund in 2020 to cover emergencies in the medical systems of the EU member state

“I am convinced that the measures will not stop here. The EPP group is already working on a very clear strategy for managing the current crisis, but also for the rapid recovery of the economy once the public health crisis is over. There are countless proposals and projects in progress that will help us all overcome this unprecedented crisis in recent history,” adds Vasile Blaga.

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