Parliamentary Watch: Taking into account population ageing in the European Semester process

The European Semester is the European annual cycle of macro-economic, budgetary and structural policy coordination. Through this process, the Commission evaluates whether and to what extent the commitments undertaken by the Member States allow the EU to meet the five headline targets defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Every year, the Parliament adopts opinions on the Annual Growth Survey, i.e. the general economic priorities for the EU and Member States, and on the implementation of these priorities.  On 11 March 2015, the Parliament adopted its position on the Annual Growth Survey 2015.

What is there for older persons?

The Parliament’s report acknowledges the need the tackle Europe’s rapid population ageing. It also recognises that older workers are the most likely group to be long-term unemployed, with only half of the workers aged 55-65 working in 2012 and that older people suffer more from reductions in public expenditure on social services, health services and social benefits. It also recalls that some categories of older people, such as people over 80, older women, older migrants and older members of ethnic minorities, are especially at risk of falling into poverty.

MEPs therefore called on the Commission and the Member States to design tailor-made policies to support quality job creation for the senior unemployed people, women and other priority groups hit especially hard by the crisis, as well as measures to promote anti-discrimination policies on the workplace, work-life balance, lifelong learning and training. They also asked the Commission to include gender pay and pension gaps and assessment of national lifelong learning systems in the Country Specific Recommendations.

On pensions, the Parliament reminded the Commission that in order to ensure both the sustainability, safety and adequacy of pensions, pension reforms need to be accompanied by policies that:

  • develop employment opportunities for older and young workers in order to contribute to a sustainable pensions system;
  • limit incentives to early retirement schemes and other early exit pathways;
  • provide for the compensation of times spent caring for children or dependent family members;
  • develop employment opportunities for older workers;
  • guarantee access to lifelong learning for both employed and unemployed people of all ages;
  • enhance healthy ageing at the workplace, considering physical and psycho-social risks to health and safety;
  • introduce tax benefit policies offering incentives to stay in work longer;
  • support active healthy ageing.

MEPs also stresses that pension reforms require national political and social cohesion, and should be negotiated with the social partners and representatives of younger and older generations as the directly affected population groups in order to be successful.

Last but not least, on health, the Parliament called for effective health prevention measures such as ‘lifetime healthy ageing’ to be strengthened and developed with a view to increasing life quality while, at the same time, reducing costs to national health systems of the medical treatments and pharmaceuticals needed late in life.

Read the full report here.

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