The European Parliament is currently debating a report under the title ‘Reversing demographic trends in EU regions using cohesion policy instruments‘. While the report is written by the Committee on Regional Development, the Employment and Social Affairs committee has now finalised its opinion. In the opinion, the Committee calls for initiatives such as a charter of the rights of older persons, a framework directive on long-term care and a European care strategy, investments into public services and quality of life in rural areas as well as opportunities for intergenerational exchanges.
The Committee points out increases in life expectancy and the differences between women and men in terms of life expectancy, and growing concerns such as old-age poverty and the reality of many older women living alone. It addresses the severe impact of demographic change on social, economic and territorial cohesion, especially regarding rural areas, worsened by the impact of COVID-19.
The Committee calls for ambitious investments and quality jobs, as well as supporting the quality of services and infrastructure. It stresses the importance of public services such as education, healthcare, welfare, housing, social services, pensions and age-friendly infrastructure. It points out the importance of care services for children, persons with disabilities and older persons and support for work-life balance of parents and carers. It also calls for assessing the role that digital education, telemedecine and telecare can play, all while stressing the accessibility of these services.
The Committee calls for mainstreaming demographic issues in all EU policies and long-term priorities, including in using the recovery and resilience funds and other EU funds to build services, social inclusion and quality of life in the regions. It calls for funding into mobile and broadband internet, independent living and mobility and public services, as well as opportunities to acquire digital skills. It also calls for opportunities for intergenerational exchange. In terms of health and long-term care services, the Committee upholds rights-based and people-centred policies, health prevention and promotion campaigns, infrastructures, early diagnosis and social protection for long-term care. The Committee stresses that the right to access health care in a timely way is an enshrined right under the European Pillar of Social Rights. It underlines that this also applies to sexual and reproductive rights.
To tackle demographic change, the Committee underlines the importance of active ageing strategies that facilitate employment of older persons, encourage autonomy and intergenerational exchange. It also calls for a European care strategy to guarantee care and long-term care services.
The Committee references the provisions of the European Social Charter and calls for a European Charter for the rights of older persons on basis of art. 25 ECFR and the intergration of persons with disabilities