The European Elections 2024 are coming up

EUD about the European Elections. PHOTO: Shutterstock

On June 6-9 this year, the EU countries will be electing their representatives to the European Parliament. For the past fifteen years, the Parliament has included at least one deaf member. What does the upcoming term look like? Are there any deaf candidates? Which issues in the EU affect the deaf community, and what has the European Union of the Deaf (EUD) done recently to influence the EU? The Swedish Deaf Magazine (DT) has interviewed three persons from EUD who shares important insights about deaf participation in politics, and EUD’s ongoing efforts to promote deaf rights.

A shorter version of this article was published in our second newspaper this year which released May the 2nd 2024. Artikeln finns även att läsa på svenska, klicka här.

Why Participation in Elections is Important
Executive Director of EUD, Frankie Picron, says that voting as a deaf individual is fundamental to a truly representative democracy. Politics is not something distant; it directly shapes your life and the society you live in. By voting, you use your power to choose those who will advocate for your interests and oversee their work. Engagement is particularly crucial for the deaf community as our specific needs and concerns can be overlooked or misunderstood by those in power.

Frankie believes that deaf people must engage in politics to ensure that the voice of our community is not only heard but also considered in legislative processes. When deaf citizens are actively involved, we have better possibilities to create more inclusive policies. Deaf politicians increase the capability of representing the community and bridging the communication gap that often exists between deaf voters and their hearing representatives.

Alexandre Bloxs, Policy Manager of EUD, emphasizes that the election results affect the deaf movement more than we think. For example, if a deaf person travels to Spain, gets into a car accident and needs to call the emergency number 112, they will want to communicate in their first language and not in Spanish Sign Language. This could be possible for sign language users if you make sure to vote and ensure that the European Parliament makes it happen.

EUD’s Work Over the Past Five Years
In the past five years, EUD has actively worked on implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Frankie mentions that EUD has played a significant role in contributing to the EU Strategy for Disability Rights 20212030. This includes participating in the EU Commission’s Disability Platform and its corresponding subgroups. Additionally, EUD ran a campaign for representatives of the European Parliament to ensure that the EU Disability Card will be as inclusive for deaf people as possible.

EUD has also been actively involved in the development and promotion of EU accessibility legislation as various projects aimed at improving the lives of deaf citizens in the EU. One such project is called Accessible Democratic Processes for All: European Elections for the Deaf”. Alexandre notes that unfortunately, EUD often has to monitor when new proposals come up and take the initiative of requesting meetings as they are not automatically invited by the EU members when proposals concern disabilities.

DT had the opportunity to ask the EUD Project Officer, Davy Van Landuyt, for more information about the European Elections for the Deafproject. Davy explains that the project is about making information about the European elections more accessible to the deaf community by providing information in International Signs and English, organizing three webinars (these webinars has now been held), and creating a toolkit on political participation as a deaf individual.
Davy shares that the information can be found on the website https://eu-election.eu/ and on their Facebook page Empowering Deaf Europeans in EU”.

EUD’s Plans for the Next Five Years
EUD’s policy team plans to continue their advocacy campaign to have the EU officially and legally recognize all its national sign languages at the EU level on equal terms with its spoken languages. The publication of a book on the recognition of national sign languages is also scheduled by 2025. Alexandre explains that the EU currently recognizes 24 different spoken languages while not taking into account that there are 30 different national sign languages as well. They are also working on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to benefit deaf communities across Europe and strengthen the capacity of affiliated deaf associations. 

Frankie concludes that EUD will continue working within the EU Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV), striving to make certain that deaf people are included at the EU level, leaving no one behind. EUD will also conduct webinars for their members to equip them with knowledge about EU policy development, securing that they will have sufficient expertise to effectively influence national implementations of the EU legislations.

No Deaf Candidates in the EU Elections in June
As far as EUD knows, there are no deaf candidates running in the upcoming EU elections after Adam Kosa, currently the only deaf member of the European Parliament, decided not to continue. EUD states that Adam has been a crucial ally in their work and that they will now have to work hard to maintain existing contacts and create new contacts with the new representatives.

Alexandre mentions that in the last EU election, deaf candidates often ended up low on the electoral lists, which did not give them a real chance of getting many votes and entering the European Parliament. Instead, it appeared as a gesture of tokenism; when political parties give the impression of showing a positive attitude by having deaf people on their lists without actually providing them with the tools to succeed. There can also be other barriers related to the countries’ attitudes towards their national sign languages, such as the question of who pays for sign language interpretation for a deaf person wanting to campaign. He wants to see deaf politicians higher up on the electoral lists with better chances to succeed, and believes that we also need to encourage more deaf people to become politicians and help with their campaigns so that the European Parliament has deaf representatives in the future. Representation matters, concludes Alexandre.

Since this article was published in our written newspaper, DT now knows there is at least two deaf candidates to the European Parliament; Humberto Insolera for Partito Democratico (Italy) and Göran Alfredsson for Folklistan (Sweden). Have you got any knowledge about further candidates? You are welcome to contact us by e-mail at redaktionen@dovastidning.se.

Translation by Angelina Nyström


Uppdaterad: 2024-06-06

Publicerad: 2024-06-06