The EU should lead internationally on the human rights of older persons, asks MEP Jordi Cañas

Spanish Member of the European Parliament, Jordi Cañas (Renew Europe), has brought forward a written question to the Vice-President of the European Commission and High-Representative for External Affairs, Josep Borrell. He asks the EU to ‘drive the initiative of a UN Convention on the rights of older persons’. He underlines that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the existing legislative framework is not sufficient to promote and ensure the protection of human rights of older persons.

MEP Jordi Cañas (Spain/Renew Europe)

Internationally, the United Nations had discussions in form of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing about legal protection gaps and barriers to the realisation of human rights of older persons since 2010. Recently, the United Nations Secretary-General has called in a policy brief for strengthening the human rights framework for older persons, a call backed by most UN member States, including all EU member States. An assessment by the UN Office of the High-Commissioner on Human Rights also showed recently that human rights are often not applied to older persons.

The European Union, notably through Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, prohibits age discrimination, but does not have effective mechanisms to implement specific measures aimed at protecting the rights of older persons.

MEP Jordi Cañas in his written question

In this context, the EU has not reassessed its position on human rights of older persons for a couple of years. NGOs have assessed committment in the debates as insufficient by EU member States and are calling on the International Day of Older Persons (1 October 2021) for governments to Lead with us, older persons, the rallying in favour of a new UN Convention.

In his response, the EU’s high representative for foreign affaits and Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell, supported that more needs to be done to protect the human rights of older persons.

The EU agrees that more needs to be done to improve the situation of older persons to make their needs more visible and strengthen the protection of their human rights, through a more effective implementation of the existing instruments.

Response on behalf of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Commission Vice-President Joseph Borrell

The High Representative also underlined that the EU is supportive of the discussion of gaps in the protection of older persons and to find solutions. Furthermore, the High Representative noted that the EU is undertaking a renewal of its non-discrimination framework.

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