Agreement has been reached within the EU's institutions for the disability card to be accepted across all EU countries.
The measure aims to make life easier for 87 million people with disabilities and their families, commission Vice President Vera Jourova said.
The Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, who headed talks within the European Commission, and MEP David Casa, who was the EPP’s negotiator, both welcomed the agreement.
Current systems relying on national identification cards in EU member states are not always recognised when users go to other EU countries, hindering their free movement in the bloc, the European Commission explained. That means that people with disabilities are sometimes prevented from priority access, reduced tariffs, reserved parking and special assistance.
The European Disability Card aims to remedy that, though the commission noted that it would not be valid for access to national welfare systems for people with disabilities.
"We have taken a significant step towards ensuring the free movement and equal treatment of persons with disabilities across all Member States," Dalli said.
"No matter where in the EU one may be, the European Disability Card will ensure that whether a cardholder is in their country or any of the other EU countries, they will be entitled to the same special conditions and preferential treatment in accessing services, activities and facilities. As a participant country of the pilot project, Malta gained early insight and experiences with the concept of the Disability Card, which will facilitate smoother transitions towards the card's broader implementation under the new directive. ”
The new measure is expected to come into force in the coming months following publication in the EU's Journal.