The Interest Group on Solidarity between Generations met on 4 February 2021 to discuss the recently published Green Paper on Ageing, with which the Commission is launching a debate across policy areas on how to address population ageing in a life-cycle perspective. Interest Group members have discussed a first reaction to the Green Paper, sent to the responsible Commission-Vice President Dubravka Šuica. Ms Šuica responded rapidly inviting to participate in the Commission’s public consultation.
Mr Milan Brglez, MEP, welcomed the positive and life-cycle approach of the Green Paper. However, a rights-based approach is largely absent. The focus on availability of jobs and sustainability of social protection is positive, but the Green Paper fails to address the importance of creating quality jobs that allow for active and healthy life and ageing. Social exclusion, gender equality and women’s rights should be better addressed and the Green Paper shows a lack of ambition for setting EU standards on long-term care.
Mr Jarosław Duda, MEP, underlined that the universal approach taken to all stages of life is welcome, as healthy ageing policies should start at an early age. The focus on intergenerational solidarity is positive, but not enough focus is put on supporting the independence of older persons, including as consumers, and the potential of telemedicine and technologies in this. He also warned about exclusion of persons without digital skills.
Ms Tatjana Ždanoka, MEP, highlighted that fair and sustainable pensions should have been better emphasised, as well as the problem of emigration, an important topic in Latvia.
The civil society perspective was represented through AGE Platform Europe and COFACE-Families Europe. Maciej Kucharczyk of AGE welcomed the many positive points in the green paper and the opportunity to move towards comprehensive policies relating to ageing. Intergenerational solidarity is an excellent entry point, as this is not only about older persons, but something bigger. Inequalities within and among generations should be addressed and the determinants of healthy ageing should be better addressed. AGE calls for using the momentum of the Council conclusions on human rights of older persons and the attention caught by the AGE joint call with EPSU and EDF for investigative action on COVID-19 and long-term care.
Elizabeth Gosme of COFACE underlined the need for the importance of the core economy, constituted by providing care, time, knowledge, skills, empathy, by families – parents and carers, most of them women, and grandparents. She stressed the importance of building environments supporting independent living at all ages through community-based services. Family carers should be recognised with rights to leave from work, respite, pensions and income, and policies to balance private and professional lives are necessary or reduce old-age poverty of women. Care should eb more equally shared between men and women.
Other MEPs also voiced important concerns. Mr Brando Benifei, MEP, reported from the successful negotiations with the Council on the European Social Fund Plus, increasing its resources for children, the fight against poverty, but also including an objective on active and healthy ageing. Mr Toine Manders, MEP, pointed out the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles by working with the industry, such as telecoms and health insurances, providing telemedecines, information and prevention. He also called for more flexible pension schemes and to protect informal carers from dismissals. Ms Estrella Dura, MEP, called for quality long-term care services and support for informal carers. Ms Atidzhe Alieva-Veli, MEP mentioned the importance of improving the skills of older persons, to reduce social exclusion and to support long-term care services. Ms Marisa Matias, MEP, also called for an end to the institutionalisation of older persons and for using the European Social and Investment Funds to achieve deinstitutionalisation.
In conclusion, members agreed that the Interest Group should work on a more detailed contribution to the Green Paper after the response of Commission Vice-President Šuica to the first reaction of the group. The consultation process should be promoted to encourage numerous submissions to the consultation.
Response by the Vice-President
Vice-President Dubravka Šuica responded to the MEP’s joint letter, taking note of the topics highlighted in the letter and inviting MEPs to also participate in the open public consultation on the Green Paper.