The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has published the analysis “Status of Vulnerable Groups in the Process of Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union – Status of Persons with Disabilities”.
The publication was prepared as part of an initiative for drafting an analytical review of the status of vulnerable groups in the context of EU accession started by SIPRU with the following objectives:
- To increase the visibility of the challenges faced by vulnerable social groups in the Republic of Serbia;
- To inform stakeholders on current processes in the development of the strategic and legislative framework in the field of social inclusion;
- To promote a dialogue and cooperation in meeting the obligations under the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU in the field of social inclusion.
The series of informative analytical situation overviews on the status of vulnerable groups in the context of meeting the obligations in the process of European integration is intended for a broad circle of stakeholders: decision makers, state administration and staff in local self-government units, development partners, civil society organisations, the academic community, and journalists.
The situation overview covers the following vulnerable groups: Roma, persons with disabilities, LGBTI, women, children, the elderly, youth, national minorities, refugees and internally displaced persons, and persons living with HIV. The second analysis is related to the status of persons with disabilities in the process of European integration.
The content of the analysis “Status of Vulnerable Groups in the Process of Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union – Status of Persons with Disabilities” provides a broad analytical reflection on the status of persons with disabilities from the aspect of compliance with obligations under the process of the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union (EU). First, it describes the importance of improving the status of persons with disabilities at the EU level, indicating the main strategic framework and key initiatives of the EU strategic framework in the forthcoming ten-year period. Then, it presents the current state of the evaluation of the status of persons with disabilities in the Republic of Serbia, in particular regarding the exercise of rights and equal opportunities in various areas of life, including employment, education, age structure of persons with disabilities, etc. The next segment of the analysis notes the current strategic, institutional and legislative framework in the Republic of Serbia regarding this vulnerable group, along with certain delays or improvements in this regard. The above is followed by an overview of evaluations of the status and obligations the Republic of Serbia has in the process of EU accession, in regards to persons with disabilities, in particular through negotiation chapters 19 (Social Policy and Employment) and 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights), and additional evaluations of obligations towards other international mechanisms, such as the United Nations and Council of Europe. Finally, the analysis provides key recommendations for improving the status of persons with disabilities in the context of the accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU.
The most important findings of the summary analysis noted that Serbia is harmonised with EU policies to a certain extent regarding the improvement of the status of persons with disabilities, but it is necessary to further harmonise the legal framework by adopting by-laws, in particular in the field of anti-discrimination. Furthermore, certain progress was made in the field of education in increasing the coverage of students from vulnerable groups at all levels of education due to affirmative action and the increase in the number of pedagogic assistants, however, despite of this measure persons with disabilities often face discrimination mainly due to limited access to rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. It is also necessary to implement activities to harmonise laws that regulate certain rights of persons with disabilities with relevant international regulations and EU law, and improve the efficiency of mechanisms for coordination, monitoring and reporting on measures and activities from the Strategy for the Improvement of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As noted, it is necessary to provide resources and accelerate the process of deinstitutionalisation and protection of persons with disabilities. It is important to work further on improving digital accessibility and enabling persons living with some form of disability to be able to use information-communication technology (ICT) to exercise their fundamental rights and be empowered.