News & Features

Disabled people locked out of Europe

Posted in General News on Thursday, August 4th, 2022

Following Brexit it has been brought to DMUK’s attention that the reciprocal agreement for using a Blue Badge which used to exist between the UK and the rest of Europe is in jeopardy.

Before Brexit UK Blue Badge holders could use their Blue Badge in the rest of the EU so long as they obeyed local disabled parking rules. This was a lifeline to many disabled people and meant that they could travel in the EU without fear that they could park close to facilities and services when in the EU. Many disabled people like to travel using their own vehicle as it is a reliable form of transport which suits their access needs. We see a lot of disabled people use their own vehicle to travel on the continent and prior to Brexit they were often full of praise of how our European neighbours enforced disabled parking and usually said they found fewer bays abused by non-badge holders compared with the UK.

Now, many EU members still recognise UK Blue Badges following Brexit. These countries include Germany, Ireland, Malta and many more. However, many including France, Spain and Greece are ‘undecided’. (The up-to-date list of specific countries can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blue-badge-using-it-in-the-eu/using-a-blue-badge-in-the-european-union#:~:text=You%20can%20use%20your%20UK,disabilities%20in%20the%20European%20Union)

What does ‘undecided’ mean?

On the government website it lists all EU member states and whether a UK Blue Badge is recognised in that specific country. For the countries that state ‘undecided’ it tells you to contact that country’s embassy. DMUK has done this for France. We contacted both the French embassy in the UK and the UK embassy in France. Each embassy just referred us back to the other without a proper answer on using a UK Blue Badge in France. We still don’t know what ‘undecided’ means – can you use a UK Blue Badge until they make a decision, or can you not use a UK Blue Badge until they make a decision?

When trying to help disabled travellers we are left at a loss of what to advise them. Our best advice is to check locally to the specific area they are travelling to. This is not easy and often can’t be done before travelling, which causes disabled people so much anxiety that they choose to simply not travel. A huge blow to independent living.

Heidi Turner, DMUK Campaigns and Communications Director, said: “Disappointed is not a strong enough word, we are appalled by all European governments involved. This should be a no-brainer reciprocal agreement that will benefit EU citizens when visiting the UK too. DMUK urges the UK government to talk to their counterparts in Europe to make a decision to accept UK Blue Badges. This is another example of disabled people falling far down the priority list. When we have investigated this nobody can give us a definitive answer on Blue Badge acceptance. This leaves disabled holiday makers in a precarious situation on whether they risk using their Blue Badge in countries that can’t make up their mind to accept UK Blue Badges.”

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Richard Pemberton's Gravatar
Richard Pemberton

Friday, August, 5th, 2022

So long as its reciprical here in UK. That is where we are going wrong, we allow, they as in EU dont on many things.

Alan Taylor's Gravatar
Alan Taylor

Sunday, August, 7th, 2022

Surprise, surprise France is undecided!!