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The D-WISE network meets in Brussels and hosts a High-Level discussion
21 Oct 2022

On Tuesday, 27 of September 2022, the D-WISE Network met in Brussels for its bi-annual members’ meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to welcome new Members in the D-WISE network, present the new Social Impact Report, as well as exchange with high-level guests on the latest Disability Employment Package. 

The meeting kicked off with a Members’ Executive Session. Members exchanged views on the General Comment on article 27 of the UNCRPD, and its impact on the definitions used in the context of employment for persons of disabilities. Importantly, the Members discussed its conceptualisation of ‘sheltered employment’, as well as the impact it could have for employers, and exchanged views on different models of alternative employment across Europe. Members exchanged on discussed ways forward towards a unified approach on inclusive work environments.

Members and partners of the D-WISE Network during the Executive Session that took place in Brussels

The discussion was followed by a brief presentation of the Disability Employment Package by Mr. Álvaro Couceiro (Policy Officer, European Disability Forum - EDF), outlining its key features and concerns for the network, which were briefly discussed among the Members, together with the potential impact the D-WISE Network could have through the proposal.

The last element of the Executive Session were the presentations of the new Members of the D-WISE network. The new members were introduced by their respective representatives: Mr. Filip Kozlika on behalf of OSVIT (Croatia), Ms. Minna Suikannen and Mr. Tommi Rossi for the SOTEK Foundation (Finland), as well as Ms. Eleonora Negunova and Ms. Elka Todorova for the National Federation of Employers of Persons with Disabilities (Bulgaria).

The meeting was followed by a high-level event, to exchange views with relevant policy makers on the progress in the implementation of the Social Economy Action Plan and the following actions on the Disability Employment Package. In addition, the aim was also to facilitate an exchange of views on the outcomes of the Impact Report for measuring the positive social impact generated by the D-WISE Network. It was moderated by Javier Güemes (Director of International Affairs of the ONCE Social Group).

Sabina Lobato (Director of Training and Employment of the ONCE Foundation and Director General of Inserta Empleo) presented the Social Impact Report of the D-WISE Network and its key findings, which focused on new indicators for measuring the impact of WISEs. This was followed by a presentation of the Disability Employment Package by Inmaculada Plancencia Porrero (Directorate General for Employment and Social Rights, European Commission), highlighting its key elements and opportunities presented, and answering key questions of the Members.

Inmaculada Placencia, Senior Expert on Social affairs from the DG EMPL during her presentation

Ms. Laura Jones, Secretary General of the European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) presented the key activities of the EPR within the current policy framework, and notably the study on measuring the Quality of Life. Lastly, the session concluded with a presentation by Mr. Haydn Hammersley, Senior Social Policy Officer on the EDF, and Mr. Álvaro Couceiro, Policy Officer on the EDF, who together presented an analysis of the Disability Employment Package and the General Comment 8 of Article 27.

In his closing remarks, Mr Javier Güemes noted the momentum granted by the current and upcoming policy framework on employment for persons with disabilities, noting that the D-WISE Network is in a strategic position to take action, in order to generate impact towards social inclusion for persons with disabilities in the labour market.

The next meeting of the D-WISE network will take place on 14 December, with more details to follow soon.