Invited to take part in an inter-party debate to kick-off AGE Platform Europe’s campaign for the European elections, several MEPs reflected on the main achievements of the last term and discussed the proposals brought forward by older persons representatives. Here is a short report of the discussions that took place on 20th February.
Ivo Vajgl (ALDE) presented ALDE’s achievements in relation to pensions. “We have imposed a debate on standards for a dignified and secure life for older persons. It would be an important task for the next legislature to look at the good practices in different countries”. He also flagged the attention now given to a greater extent to dementia: “More money should be channeled in the research of this disease, such as it has been the case for HIV/AIDS”. Watch Ivo Vajgl supporting AGE Manifesto
Jean Lambert (Greens) also discussed pensions referring to the recent adoption of the PEPPs scheme: “we should not be replacing the primacy of strong state pensions, but this is important to be able to put money aside”. She also welcomed the agreement on the carers’ leave as per the proposal of Work-Life Balance directive, the Cross-border social security and the accessibility act. However she regretted the lack of targets for poverty and social exclusion. For the next term, she invited future MEPs to keep the horizontal non-discrimination directive on the agenda as well as to protect the right to long-term care, in particular home care services, and the right to an adequate old-age income.
Brando Benifei (S&D) emphasized the importance of the sustainable policies to give substance to our values of solidarity between generations: “Pensions should not be used as an instrument of political fighting. There are issues in Italy about the overall balance of public finances; it is important to ensure it is possible for younger persons to build a future.” He also recalled the importance of high environmental standards for a healthy environment as people get older and of schemes such as the ESF+ for all generations to be able to benefit from life-long learning and up-skilling opportunities.
Building on the framework presented by Johan ten Geuzendam from the European Commission, major political figures reacted to the presentations of two organisations of older persons affiliate to European parties (the European Seniors’ Union affiliated to the EPP and the European Senior’s Organisation for the Socialists).
Christian Kremer (EPP) hoped for a more holistic approach to ageing: “we need to care for the current young when they become older. And we need to reflect on how we give the chance to older people to be active beyond pension age”. This brings in several challenges around digitalisation, inclusive labour markets, formal and informal care where the EU can be of added-value to help Member States meet the challenge.
Evelyne Huytebroeck (Greens) presented an integrated vision where European questions around non-discrimination for instance are reflected in national and regional policies: “Everyone is different and seniors are not a homogeneous block. We must extend access facility to older people in mobility and public spaces, as we must be inclusive of women, people with migrant background, etc.” She underlined the importance of adopting a gender perspective in relation to employment and care questions to be able to eradicate the differences such as the gender pension gap.
Joseph Weidenholzer (S&D) praised the great experiences people compile over a life-span and invited to adopt a positive outlook: “Many are anxious partly due to pensions. By putting emphasis on private pension funds, much of the public elements could be destroyed. Old-age poverty should be a priority.” He made the link with decent lives and the importance to address age discrimination to be able to be optimistic.