A Critical Study of European Union Law and Policy Related to Disability
thesisposted on 27.04.2012, 13:12 by David Leigh Hosking
This thesis examines the extent to which European Union (EU) law and policy reflect an approach to disability consistent with Critical Disability Theory (CDT). Before examining the four policy areas selected for study, the thesis identifies the antecedents of CDT in critical social theory and Critical Legal Studies and then develops its parameters. CDT centres disability, adopts a social model of disability, interprets concepts of equality and rights in ways which promote social inclusion and identifies disabled people as primary actors in the production of knowledge about disability and the development of progressive disability policy. The fundamental elements of EU disability policy are identified and assessed against CDT’s approach to disability. That policy, based on a social model of disability and the active participation of disabled people in the formulation and implementation of disability policy, is expressed in language which is quite consistent with CDT. The first area of EU law and policy examined is the prohibition against discrimination based on disability. The promise and limitation of the Employment Equality Directive and the proposed directive related to the provision of goods and services are considered in light of inherent limitations in EU law arising from its liberal conception of rights, the competencies of the EU and exceptions and exemptions in the directives themselves. The three other areas of EU law and policy examined against CDT are the European Social Fund, transport policy and the social inclusion Open Method of Coordination. These policy areas provide examples of the variety of policy instruments which are utilised by the EU to advance its disability policy. The thesis reveals the different elements of CDT which are reflected to different degrees in each of these policy areas and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of EU policy to transform the social condition of disabled people.