Brussels 27th October 2014
European Parliament elected new European Commission on 22 October
AGE welcomes new Commission and highlights need for internal cooperation on ageing and demographic issues
Following the approval of the new European Commission by the European Parliament, AGE Platform Europe members welcome changes brought by President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker in some portfolios, which we believe are important steps to move forward older people’s rights and fight age discrimination in Europe. However, we also encourage the new Commissioners to strengthen their cooperation on some major cross-cutting societal issues such as demographic ageing.
AGE Platform Europe welcomes the following changes in this new Commission:
- First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will have an over-arching role within the new Commission and will be responsible for ensuring that Fundamental Rights aremainstreamed in all EU actions. AGE enthusiastically waits for more details about the planned social impact assessments, which should ensure proposed EU policies will benefit all citizens including the most vulnerable.
- Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, will be responsible for anti-discrimination and gender issues, with a clear mandate to unblocknegotiations on the Commission proposal for the Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive banning discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation outside employment. In addition, she will be responsible for working with the Fundamental Right Agency (FRA) and for supporting Vice-President Timmermans in ensuring that all EU actions and Member States actions when applying legislation comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It remains to be seen how Mrs Jourova and Mrs Thyssen (Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs) will cooperate on non-discrimination and equality issues.
- The issue of Consumers has now a portfolio of its own and will be under the responsibility of Commissioner for Justice. We hope this will help address the current lack of adequate consumer rights impacting the quality of rights and the dignity of vulnerable consumers.
- We are also pleased that President-elect Juncker heard our joint call for maintaining the European Medicine Agency within the portfolio of the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, although we understand that pharmaceutical products and health devices will also remain under the responsibility the new Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, as initially proposed.
- Ms Marianne Thyssen, new Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, will be responsible for “ensuring that employment and social considerations, including the impact of ageing and skills needs are appropriately taken into account in all Commission proposals and activities”. Ms Thyssen’s objectives, as described in her mission letter, seems to be in line with our objectives, calling for a fairer and more effective social market economy and a sustainable welfare system.
AGE calls upon Ms Thyssen and Vice-Presidents Katainen and Dombrovskis to ensure together that the Europe 2020 strategy’s social targets are met by creating differentiated analyses and recommendations aimed to reduce old age poverty and increase employment of older workers. AGE welcomes that life-long learning is given serious attention, but stresses that it should benefit all persons, not only those of working age.
It remains unclear how Ms Thyssen will be empowered to address the multi-sectorial issues related to ageing and demographic change in her portfolio, which go far beyond employment and pension issues. We recommend that Commissioner Thyssen should take a leading role to coordinate Commission’s action related to demographic change and should propose an EU Strategy on Demographic Change, based on art. 25 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
As Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General of AGE Platform Europe, highlights, “The ageing of our population impacts all areas of society. This means that we need to bring all relevant sectors around the table if we wish to address this burning issue in an effective way.”
Therefore, we hope that the new Commission will strengthen its internal coordination and cooperation with civil society on issues linked to fundamental rights and demographic change, as this is essential for developing sustainable and result-driven policies on current major demographic issues.
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- European Commission press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1192_en.htm
- AGE press release on Older Persons’ International Day: http://age-platform.eu/age-communication-to-the-media-press-releases-en-gb-6/2351-to-future-eu-commissioners-don-t-leave-older-persons-behind