DISCIT’s results will support the redefinition of the European Social Model, in particular by facilitating the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at European Union level and in Member States. While Member States have different conditions for implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requirements, the EU can adopt common minimum standards within their areas of competence and support Member States in complying with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requirements. The aim of the EU to create a European Social Model for the 21st century promoting social inclusion and cohesion while maintaining financial sustainability necessitates a thorough examination of the options for expanding capabilities and achieving full and effective participation of all citizens, including persons with disabilities. DISCIT will contribute to this examination by identifying more effective ways to remove and prevent physical, attitudinal, social and organisational barriers to participation on an equal basis with others, in a context of rapid social, economic and environmental change and emerging panoramas of disabilities. More specifically DISCIT will:
develop Active Citizenship as a multifaceted concept and explore this as a complex challenge for the EU Member States, affiliated European countries and the European Union (Objective 1),
examine the options for synergy between different governance levels (international, European, national, federal, regional/local) to promote Active Citizenship (Objective 2),
investigate the socio-economic impact of changes in the conditions for Active Citizenship, i.e. the factors influencing the possibilities for persons with disabilities to fully participate in the economy, the market, community living, civic life, and in the use of new technologies (Objective 3), and
identify policy lessons and recommendations (Objective 4).
To achieve the four objectives DISCIT will complete seven tasks:
A. By comparing national policies in selected European countries, DISCIT clarifies the strengths and weaknesses of existing approaches to Active Citizenship, best practice and the scope for policy learning across country-borders.
B. DISCIT investigates how diverse forms of social regulation – legal, incentive or voluntary-based – can be refined to make them more relevant for enhancing Active Citizenship, given the different traditions and current policy designs of European countries.
C. DISCIT identifies strategies for making the Fundamental Rights under the Treaty and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality for all European citizens, especially persons with disabilities and the growing population of older persons.
D. DISCIT examines under which conditions re-distributive policies (social benefit and social services) in Member States can be redefined to interact more constructively with their regulatory systems.
E. DISCIT explores strategies for advancing synergies between Member States, affiliated European countries and the European Union (multilevel governance) in promoting Active Citizenship.
F. DISCIT clarifies how new and innovative forms of collaboration between public, private and civil society actors in developing and implementing policies, products and services, can enhance Active Citizenship.
G. DISCIT develops a model for analysing the socio-economic impact of changing conditions for Active Citizenship.
In sum, these efforts will contribute to the knowledge basis for realising Europe 2020. Such realisation requires considering existing budget priorities, the potential and actual impact of innovative products and services, the needs for reorienting disability relevant social protection programmes and market regulation, and strengthening mechanisms for policy learning. Although the debt crisis limits opportunities for social investment in European states, it will be crucial to identify sustainable and yet inclusive programmes, products and services in order to achieve Active Citizenship.