On 12 April 2020, an MEP from the Dutch party ’50plus’ asked the European Commission how it intends to ban age discrimination. He referred to a study by the Dutch consumer’s organisation Consumentenbond finding that older drivers are paying a surcharge on their insurance premium on the basis of their age, and are sometimes denied insurance. Mr Toine Manders quoted the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which calls for banning discrimination based on age. The Commission put forward a proposal for a directive in 2008, the Horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive, to apply this principle. However, the Directive is since blocked in the Council of the EU. Mr Manders asked the Commission what it intends to do to unblock the directive.
The COVID19 crisis has seen diverging and often discriminatory treatment of vulnerable groups and unveiled the deficiencies in addressing demographic change. The discussion on demographic change and solidarity between generations should be at the heart of the efforts for a post-pandemic society, therefore the European Commission should not delay this discussion.
On the occasion of the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations, 29 April 2020, eleven MEPs from five political groups have questioned the Commission on its plans. The question for written answer has been signed by MEPs Milan Brglez (SI, S&D), Jaroslaw Duda (PL, EPP), Brando Benifei (IT, S&D), Fred Predrag Matic (HR, S&D), Irena Joveva (SI, Renew), Klemen Groselj (SI, Renew), Manuel Pizarro (PT, S&D), Chrysoula Zacharopoulou (FR, Renew), Marisa Matias (PT, GUE/NGL), José Gusmao (PT, GUE/NGL) and Niklas Nienass (DE, Greens/EFA).
In her response (available in the same languages), Commission Vice-President Dubravka Suica indicates that the Commission has included refrences to the princile of Solidarity between Generations in the proposals for a COVID-19 recovery fund and has meanwhile published the Report on Demographic Change. The discussion on the Green Paper on Ageing has been postponed from end-2020 towards 2021 to focus on the immediate crisis response.
Text of the Question for written answer
In the run-up to the European Day of Solidarity between Generations on 29 April, the emergency response to COVID-19 has rightly taken centre stage on the European agenda. Diverging and often inadequate treatment of vulnerable groups (including older people, persons with disabilities, children, women, etc.) has revealed pre-existing deficiencies in addressing demographic change. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis and Member States’ responses have underlined the need for better EU coordination and common action on health and social protection.
Demographic change and solidarity between generations must therefore be at the heart of discussions in the EU as we move towards a post-pandemic society and economy which must accommodate our ageing societies, and ensure everyone’s human rights are fully upheld.
The Commission included a Report on the Impact of Demographic Change and a Green Paper on Ageing in its 2020 Work Programme, but has delayed publication of the Report due to COVID-19.
1. What actions does the Commission intend to take to initiate the discussion urgently needed in response to EU demographic challenges in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath?
2. What will the postponement of the publication of the Report mean for the Green Paper on Ageing?
1. While the Commission continues its efforts to protect lives and livelihoods and chart a path for Europe’s recovery, it continues to work to address more structural changes, including the twin green and digital transitions and the impact of demographic change. Demography is a priority for the Commission and has a dedicated portfolio for the first time to address these issues. Demographic change reflects long-term challenges that build up and unfold over many decades. It is too early to draw definitive conclusions on Covid-19’s possible impact on Europe’s long-term demographic outlooks. Nevertheless, it is clear that any future policy response will have to take into account demographic factors and draw lessons from the Covid-19 crisis. In this spirit, the Commission’s Recovery Plan adopted on 27 May 2020 explicitly calls for solidarity between generations and highlights the need to support vulnerable groups as part of a fair and inclusive recovery. 2. The report on the Impact of Demographic Change was adopted on 17 June 2020(1). As confirmed in the adjusted Commission Work Programme for 2020(2), it will provide the basis for a series of initiatives on demography, including the Green Paper on Ageing and the Long-term Vision for Rural Areas, which are both planned for 2021.
The European Commission’s Vice-President-designate on Demographic Change and Democracy, Ms Dubravka Suica, supported the Intergroup in her capacity of MEP, as she waits to be confirmed in her role as Commissioner. The Intergroup also received support from two Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament: Ms Mairead McGuinness of Ireland and Othmar Karas of Austria. The campaign for the Intergroup is ongoing, let us know if you want to join!