European Roundtable on Legal Capacity and Supported Decision-Making

PRESS RELEASE: Brussels, 25 November 2011

Under the auspices of Olga Sehnalová MEP (Social Democrats), Inclusion Europe organised a roundtable meeting of stakeholders in legal capacity and supported decision-making in the European Parliament.

Representatives from national administrations, EU institutions, governmental and non-governmental organisations met to discuss one of the most important topics for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Legal capacity is a key to the exercise of a whole range of other rights, including the right to vote or get married. According to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, governments must not only ensure that all people with disabilities enjoy their legal capacity; they also have to provide them with adequate support to exercise this right. Yet, a considerable number of people with intellectual disabilities Europe-wide are limited or deprived of their legal capacity.

With the EU and most of its member states having concluded the UN Convention, reform of national legislations to comply with Article 12 is of major importance for members of Inclusion Europe.

The Convention introduces a fundamental shift from substitute decision-making, where rights are transferred to other person, to supported decision-making. For many, this is a rather new concept, even though, as pointed out by Inclusion Europe’s President Maureen Piggot, “it has always been happening, for instance in a family or in services.”

Incapacity cannot be based on disability. In the Canadian model of supported decision-making, capability is determined by will, feelings and trust. “It is of utmost importance to challenge the prejudice of incapacity and change it to presumption of capacity,” Ms. Piggot concluded.

During the meeting, participating stakeholders emphasized the need for:

  • Capacity-building to support the self-advocacy movement
  • Mainstreaming the provisions of reasonable accommodation in all areas of legislation
  • Collaboration between support services and legal professionals, allowing for adequate assessment of quality and extent of support
  • Establishment of safeguards such as trust and support network

International exchange of good practice was deemed by many as the way forward. Inclusion Europe’s Working Group on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination is aware of the need to bring this concept closer to people and offers a platform for discussion on how these models look like.

For more information, please, contact:

Silvana Enculescu
Communications Officer
Inclusion Europe
Tel: +32 2 502 28 15
Fax: +32 2 502 80 10