AGE publishes questions to candidate Commissioners

With the upcoming hearings of the candidate Commissioners, we are at a key moment to make sure that the EU addresses the challenges posed by the ageing of the population. To do so, we need clear commitments from the future College of Commissioners.

AGE has therefore drafted a series of recommendations and questions to the candidate Commissioners. They are dealing with a broad range of issues of concern for older Europeans, e.g. fundamental rights, economic reforms, social protection systems, transport, tourism, consumers’ protection, accessibility, health, research.

AGE recommendations and questions have been grouped according to EP Committees’ competences:

We hope that the candidate Commissioners will take position on the challenges AGE is raising during the hearings at the European Parliament in September.

Dear Mr Juncker, congratulations with your election. We await with great impatience the appointment of the Commissioner in charge of the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights

 

AGE Platform Europe congratulates Mr Juncker for his election as President of the European Commission. Older Europeans took note with great interest of his commitment to appoint a Commissioner in charge of the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and now hope this person will take forward an ambitious agenda to protect EU citizens’ rights, regardless of their age.

Today, the European Parliament elected Mr Juncker for a 5 year term as President of the European Commission with a comfortable majority. He now has few days to finalise his list of portfolios to constitute the new Commission. This is a key moment to ensure that Mr Juncker’s commitments are taken forward by the next College of Commissioners.

AGE welcomes the promise to appoint a Commissioner in charge of the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We believe such position will help the EU to adopt a coherent and coordinated approach to address the situation of fundamental rights in all EU Member States.

EU’s approach to the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights has been so far on an ad hoc and fragmented basis and there is incoherence between how rights are addressed in EU’s internal and external action, which entails important disparities about how EU citizens can access their rights.

We therefore hope that the new Commissioner will take concrete steps to render the interventions of the EU institutions and the Member States in the area of fundamental rights more structured, better coordinated, effective and accountable.We further expect a close consultation and involvement of civil society to shape EU’s priorities in the area of fundamental rights.

Age discrimination is a key aspect here. Older Europeans are discriminated against in many areas of their lives, including access to employment and health, age limits in financial services and insurance products, and this has to stop if we want to build a Europe based on equality, fairness and inclusion.

Such Commissioner will have to play a crucial role to push as soon as possible the EU Council to adopt the long-awaited draft directive on equal treatment, as Mr Juncker promised this morning at the European Parliament. This would give the EU the relevant tools to fight against discrimination in all areas of its citizens’ lives and would close the existing gap in the implementation of article 25 of the EU Charter.

We also call Mr Juncker to adopt an EU Strategy on Demographic change to make sure that challenges posed by the ageing of the population will be addressed adequately and in a coordinated way in the coming years.

As the largest network representing older people in Europe, we remain committed to closely collaborate with the new President and future College of Commissioners to make the EU more age-friendly.

 

Useful links:

AGE Manifesto for the European Elections 2014 (here)

AGE proposals for questions to the candidate President of the European Commission (here)

AGE recommendations to the new EU leaders (here)

Dear Mr. Juncker, Europe is ageing fast and strong political action is needed to secure a sustainable and fair future for all generations

 

Ahead of the election of the President of the European Commission tomorrow in Strasbourg, AGE Platform Europe calls on MEPs to check Mr. Juncker’s commitments to tackle positively population ageing. Demographic change, if addressed adequately by EU leaders, is a key opportunity to implement innovative solutions that will make Europe a better place to work and live and help the EU create new jobs and find sustainable solutions for our ageing population.

In 2012, there were 190 million people aged 50 years and over in the EU, up from 178 million five years previously, according to Eurofound. Huge impacts on Member States’ social security systems are expected in the coming years.

Demographic and climate changes are two major challenges facing Europe. They are also the two main areas where huge opportunities for economic growth, innovation and social justice can be developed in the coming decade if there is political will behind.

The next President of the European Commission will have a key role to play to reinforce the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy to ensure fair and sustainable growth and prosperity of European citizens at every stage of life. But for the moment the EU is lacking a coordinated approach to demographic change.

AGE calls on EU leaders to adopt an EU Strategy on Demographic Change to help coordinate and build synergies between EU policies on which demographic change have an impact. This includes the social dimension of the European Semester, the situation of fundamental rights, the realisation of EU citizens’ rights in the internal market and the implementation of the Structural funds.

In this framework, a EU Strategy on Demographic Change should become a main vector for economic growth and help EU Member States and regions adapt to the needs of their rapidly ageing populations in ways that are sustainable and fair to all generations and ensure equality between men and women. In other words, it will help create an Age-Friendly European Union.

Last week, we welcomed Mr Juncker’s recognition of the unfair social consequences of austerity measures and will carefully monitor his commitment to ensure social justice during this new term. Social assessments of reforms are key tools here to guarantee adequacy and sustainability of social security systems for all generations, regardless of their age and income.

The EU must also remain at the forefront in terms of protection of fundamental rights. This includes fighting against any form of age discrimination and we call on MEPs to question Mr Juncker on his willingness to develop all necessary tools to protect older persons’ rights in Europe, including via relaunching the stalled discussions on the draft directive on equal treatment outside employment.

AGE calls on MEPs to ask the right questions tomorrow in Strasbourg and invites them to read our proposals for questions here. These questions are backed by the European Disability Forum, the European Anti-Poverty Network, the European Women’s Lobby and the European Public Health Alliance.

 

Useful links:

AGE Manifesto for the European Elections 2014 (here)

AGE proposals for questions to the candidate President of the European Commission (here)

AGE recommendations to the new EU leaders (here)

Hearing for the European Commission Presidency: Towards a EU Strategy on Demographic Change

Hearing jpegDemographic and climate changes are both major challenges facing Europe. They are also the two main areas where huge opportunities for economic growth, innovation and social justice can be developed in the coming decade.

As President of the new College of Commissioners, you will have the power to reinforce the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy to ensure fair and sustainable growth and prosperity of European citizens at every stage of life.

In this framework, a new EU Strategy on Demographic Change can become a main vector for economic growth and help EU Member States and regions adapt to the needs of their rapidly ageing populations in ways that are sustainable and fair to all generations.

An EU Strategy on Demographic Change should seek to help coordinate and build synergies between EU major dossiers on which demographic change has an impact.

  • Do you agree that the EU needs to adopt and implement a Strategy on Demographic Change to coordinate and build synergies between all relevant EU policy processes and initiatives to ensure that Europe 2020 delivers an EU for all ages?

Such Strategy would coordinate policies in the following areas:
– The European Semester
– Fundamental rights
– The Internal Market
– Regional policy

Specific questions have been drafted for each of the above areas.

You will find our proposals for questions here. They received support from the European Disability Forum, the European Network Against Poverty, the European Women’s Lobby and the European Public Health Alliance.

 

Elezioni Parlamento Europeo: Age Platform Italia invita tutti ad andare a votare il 25 maggio

“L’Europa fin qui costruita ha tanti difetti, è sicuramente perfettibile, ma ci ha consentito di vivere per settant’anni in pace e in crescente benessere” afferma Elio D’Orazio, Coordinatore di Age Platform Italiache prosegue “L’era della globalizzazione impone profonde riforme politiche, economiche ed istituzionali con più democrazia, giustizia, eguaglianza e solidarietà tra tutti i Paesi membri”.

Il Parlamento che andremo ad eleggere dovrà farsi carico di raggiungere questi obiettivi. Per questo dobbiamo dare fiducia alle persone ed alle forze politiche che responsabilmente si faranno carico di costruire e non di distruggere, di mantenere vivo il loro rapporto con i cittadini, senza rinchiudersi nei palazzi, di sviluppare solidarietà, di rilanciare una economia innovativa e competitiva, di riconsiderare la spesa sociale come investimento produttivo anche ai fini del calcolo rapporto deficit/ pil”.

“AGE Platform Europe ha presentato suo “Manifesto”, proposte che, pur facendo specifico riferimento alle persone anziane, guardano al contesto generale”. “Nel manifesto si chiede la ricostituzione di un luogo certo del dialogo sociale: l’intergruppo che si occupa dell’invecchiamento della popolazione e della solidarietà tra le generazioni. I membri italiani eletti dovranno, almeno uno per gruppo, rendersi disponibili a sollecitare tale ricostituzione e parteciparvi attivamente. E’ questo il luogo in cui le organizzazioni di rappresentanza potranno fare sentire la loro voce ed i parlamentari potranno formulare proposte che attengono in particolare alle persone anziane: salute, assistenza, vivibilità ambientale, sicurezza, valorizzazione nel contesto economico e sociale”.

Subito dopo le elezioni Age Platform Italia chiederà un incontro con gli eletti per mettere a punto idee, proposte ed azioni comuni per il prossimo quinquennio. Nello stesso tempo Age Platform Italia chiederà anche un incontro con il Governo italiano per coordinare le azioni da svolgere nel corso del semestre europeo a guida italiana.

Youth Forum campaign – LoveYouthFuture – time for the EU to show its love to young people

Youth pledgeThe European Union is now, more than ever crucial to young people. The EU brings benefits to young people, helps ensure their rights and is open to having young people’s voices heard; indeed young people are the most positive age group towards the EU. However, it is the view of the European Youth Forum that, in the rush to emerge from the crisis, young people’s rights are being overridden – their situation is not improving. For example, over 5.4 million young people (under 25) are unemployed in the EU – a figure which is remaining stubbornly high as the EU exits the crisis.

We in the Youth Forum believe that now the EU needs to make a strong stand for young people. We have therefore invited candidates, through its LoveYouthFuture campaign, to pledge to young people that they have a decent future. The pledges, 11 in total, highlight the importance of Europe as a solution to the problems facing its youth. The pledges include protecting young workers, volunteers and interns, providing all young people with the opportunity to have a quality education, fully implementing an improved Youth Guarantee scheme, encouraging the free movement of young people and lowering the voting age to 16. Candidates have to sign up to at least 6 of the pledges to support the campaign.

In a similar way to AGE Platform’s campaign, Love Youth Future aims to make the next European Parliament youth-friendly. We are asking candidates to commit to creating an EU where young people have access to jobs, quality education and free movement in a Europe where they define their own future. It is clear that Europe-wide problems, such as job security, unemployment, need Europe-wide solutions. Right now, the rights of Europe’s young people can be best protected through action at European level.

We welcome the fact that 240 MEP candidates from every EU Member-State have signed up to our LoveYouthFuture Pledges and have supported the campaign. There are many agreements between the Pledges and the AGE manifesto “Toward an Age-friendly European Parliament” – including working for a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Directive, that explicitly rules out discrimination based on age. We look forward to working with AGE Platform Europe to advance our joint priorities in the new Parliament.

The EU must combat elder abuse – EU måste bekämpa övergrepp mot äldre

The EU must take a tough stand against elder abuse and no one should have a pension that is below the EU poverty line, writes the chairmen of pensioners’ organizations in Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Soon we will have the opportunity to choose the politicians will represent us in the EU Parliament. It is by no means an insignificant choice. Decisions made within the EU affects our daily lives, even for us who belong to the older generation.

In the coming years we will fight against age discrimination and ensure that all pensioners in the EU have decent pensions. No seniors should have to have incomes below the EU poverty line . In Sweden, we see more and more, especially women, who are forced to live on pensions that are below the limit that the EU -defined poverty line.

When the EU is providing support for the development of roads, railways and information technology (IT) in member countries , make them available for people who have some form of disability. When it comes to IT a draft EU directive requires that web pages with public service information are accessible to those who may not have a great internet experience. The proposal must become a reality or otherwise a large portion of Europe’s population will be left aside of the digital revolution.

It is also important that the EU initiated technical standardization of security alarms for the elderly so that they can be used regardless of the manufacturer. It is not reasonable that within Europe, different standards are developed for a product that is so important for many elderly people.

Large areas of EU research money is used for medical research. EU wants more elderly people live more healthy years. The Union must therefore ensure that all older people have access to drugs and medical treatments, and information on clinical trials. In addition, the EU must work on public health and combat the spread of infections and health inequalities through targeted support.

Recently changed EU procurement rules will make it easier to take into account the environment and address social demands when goods and services are purchased by the public sector. These include the purchase of food for the elderly. It is a step forward, and now we need to ensure that such changes of the legal framework become reality, while pushing to take another step away from the philosophy that only the cheapest price should prevail when goods are purchased.

Around Europe elder abuse is a major concern. The EU must develop a strategy to support Member States to combat such abuses.

Now it is important that all of us go and vote. We need wise and serious politicians in the European Parliament who realize that a developed welfare is good for EU citizens. The Nordic welfare model has created communities where we older people live relatively good. Our Nordic experience can be highlighted as example of EU cooperation.

Read the article in Swedish here.

Curt Persson, PRO, Sweden

Kalevi Kivistö, Eläkeläiset ry, Finland

Lillian Knudsen, Faglige seniorer, Denmark,

Matti Hellsten, EKL, Finland

Sam Sandberg, SKPF, Sweden

 

D-1 before the elections!

Elections are taken place on:

  • 22 May in the UK and in the Netherlands,
  • 23 May in Ireland
  • 23 and 24 May in Czech Republic
  • 24 May in Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, French Overseas Territories
  • 25 May in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Spain

Results will be available Sunday evening.

Willing to ensure that older persons’ rights are a priority for the next European Parliament? Check out which MEP candidates have signed AGE Manifesto here.

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Austria: PVÖ – European Conference “Working together for a better Europe”

PVÔ – the largest seniors’ organization in Austria – is fully engaged in the EU elections campaign. On 29 April, senior representatives from all over Austria met under the slogan: “For a better Europe!” at the European Conference of PVÖ.

“The EU election on May 25 is a fate choice for Europe, for Austria, for all of us. Especially for the older generation, there is much to gain, but also very much to lose! One thing is certain: Europe needs a change of direction! Let us fight for a new, a better Europe,” said Karl Blecha, President of Austria (PVÖ) Pensioners Association in his speech at the European Conference.

PVÖDer Pensionistenverband Österreichs – die größte und mitgliederstärkste Seniorenorganisation Österreichs – engagiert sich mit voller Kraft im EU-Wahlkampf. Am 29. April trafen sich SeniorInnenvertreter aus ganz Österreich unter dem Motto: “Für ein besseres Europa!” bei der Europa-Konferenz des PVÖ.

„Die EU-Wahl am 25. Mai ist eine Schicksalswahl für Europa, für Österreich, für uns alle. Besonders für die ältere Generation gibt es viel zu gewinnen, aber auch sehr viel zu verlieren! Fest steht: Europa braucht einen Richtungswechsel! Kämpfen wir für ein neues, ein besseres Europa “, betonte Karl Blecha, Präsident des Pensionistenverbandes Österreichs (PVÖ) in seiner Rede bei der Europa-Konferenz.

“26 Tage trennen uns noch von der Wahl zum Europäischen Parlament. Diese Wahlen sind von enormer Bedeutung! Denn noch nie war die Chance auf einen Richtungswechsel in Europa so groß, noch nie hatte eine Stimme bei einer EU-Wahl so viel Gewicht! Wir müssen diese Stimme nutzen um zu zeigen, dass wir ein anderes, ein besseres Europa wollen”, donnerte der PVÖ-Präsident unter dem Applaus der über 350 SeniorInnenvertreterInnen aus ganz Österreich.

Denn eines ist klar, so Blecha: “Wir sind unzufrieden mit der derzeitigen EU-Politik der Konservativen und Neoliberalen.” Und dass eine Beibehaltung dieser Politik die derzeitige Situation in Europa noch deutlich verschlimmern würde, zeigt eine aktuelle europäische Studie, die eine starke Zunahme der Arbeitslosigkeit, steigende Armut, Konflikte um Rohstoffe und sinkende Lebensstandards prognostiziert. “So würde die Zukunft aussehen, wenn wir nicht gegensteuern. Daher brauchen wir einen Richtungswechsel. Es muss Schluss sein mit der Politik für Banken, Spekulanten und Lobbyisten! Sie haben nur 27 Millionen Arbeitslose und sinkende Sozialstandards gebracht. Wir müssen auf das Desaster, das die Neoliberalen und Konservativen verursacht haben, reagieren und eine Änderung herbeiführen!”, stellte Blecha klar.

PVÖ unterstützt KandidatInnen der SPÖ zur EU-Wahl

Aber “raus aus der EU und Grenzen dicht” – das Programm der FPÖ oder “alles Privatisieren und Aushöhlen der Sozialsysteme”, wie es z.B. die NEOS fordern ist der falsche Weg. “Was wir jetzt brauchen ist der kompromisslose Kampf gegen Arbeitslosigkeit, ein Sozialpaket, das Armut verhindert und Lohndumping bekämpft. Wir brauchen strenge Kontrollen und Regeln für Banken, um eine zweite Hypo-Alpe-Adria wie sie uns die Haider-Strache-Partei eingebrockt hat zu verhindern. Wir müssen Steuerbetrug bekämpfen und sensible private Daten schützen. Wir müssen für sichere Lebensmittel, eine saubere Umwelt und nachhaltige Energieformen eintreten. Für all das stehen die europäischen und österreichischen Sozialdemokraten. Daher unterstützt der Pensionistenverband Österreichs, die starke Stimme und Interessensvertretung der älteren Generation, die KandidatInnen der SPÖ zur EU-Wahl. Denn es ist nicht egal, wie die Wahl ausgeht, es ist nicht egal, wer in Europa und Österreich die Nummer 1 ist! Krempeln wir die Ärmel hoch! Für ein neues, ein besseres Europa”, so der PVÖ-Präsident.

Auf dem Programm der eintägigen Konferenz im C3 Convention Center in Wien standen auch Reden von Eugen Freund, SPÖ-Spitzenkandidat für die Europawahlen, Europas Seniorenkandidat Nr. 1, Univ. Prof. Josef Weidenholzer und SPÖ-Bundesgeschäftsführer Norbert Darabos.

Freund: Wir wollen ein Europa, in dem der Mensch im Mittelpunkt steht und nicht die Lobbys und Konzerne

SPÖ-EU-Spitzenkandidat Eugen Freund betonte in seiner Rede dass die kommende EU-Wahl die Chance auf einen “Kurswechsel hin zu einem sozialeren und gerechteren Europa” biete. “Europa braucht dringend diesen Kurswechsel und nur eine starke Sozialdemokratie ist Garantin dafür”, betonte Freund, denn: “Es ist nicht egal, wer in Europa den Ton angibt, ob Konzerne die sozialen Standards vorgeben oder die Sozialdemokratie Seite an Seite mit den Gewerkschaften für faire Löhne kämpft, ob AKW gebaut oder erneuerbare Energien forciert werden, ob wir sichere Lebensmittel oder genverändertes Essen auf unseren Tellern haben!” Für den SPÖ-EU-Spitzenkandidaten steht fest: “Wir wollen ein Europa, in dem der Mensch im Mittelpunkt steht und nicht die Lobbys und Konzerne!”

Weidenholzer: Mit voller Kraft für die Interessen der älteren Generation – gegen den Privatisierungswahn

Europas Seniorenkandidat Nr. 1 Univ. Prof. Josef Weidenholzer, der starke Vertreter der älteren Generation im Europäischen Parlament, unterstrich: “Ich vertrete diese Interessen gerne, aber auch mit einer Portion Wut.” Denn Neoliberale, die in der EU wie “Irrlichter” umhergeisterten, hätten einen Generationenkonflikt vom Zaun gebrochen. Man dürfe jedoch die eine Generation nicht gegen die andere ausspielen. Das gelte vor allem für jene Neoliberalen, “die jahrelang nichts gegen die hohe Jugendarbeitslosigkeit in der EU unternommen haben und damit diesen Konflikt geschürt haben”, sagte Weidenholzer. Weidenholzer, der bereits die Privatisierung des Wassers erfolgreich verhindern konnte, betonte, dass er sich auch weiterhin mit voller Kraft für den Schutz der öffentlichen Daseinsvorsorge einsetzen wird: “Bei Privatisierungen geht es um Gewinne, nicht um Qualität. Das hat man nicht zuletzt bei der der privaten Altersvorsorge gesehen, die gescheitert ist. Die öffentliche Daseinsvorsorge hat Europa ausgemacht. Sie darf nicht vollständig in private Hände gelangen!“.

Darabos: Generation 50Plus wird diese Wahl maßgeblich mitentscheiden

SPÖ-Bundesgeschäftsführer und EU-Wahlkampfleiter Norbert Darabos stellte klar, dass es das Ziel der Sozialdemokratie ist, stärkste Kraft in Europa zu werden: “Es geht um viel bei dieser Wahl. Es geht darum, die Politik der Europäischen Union neu zu gestalten.” Die Generation 50Plus werde diese Wahl maßgeblich mitentscheiden, betonte Darabos. “Es geht um die Zukunft von 500 Millionen Menschen. Wir haben die Chance, mit Martin Schulz als Spitzenkandidat der Europäischen Sozialdemokraten, einen Politikwechsel in Europa einzuleiten.”

Spain: Great support to AGE Manifesto in Catalonia

FATEC is a federation created 32 years ago, formed by volunteers, with the aim of promoting activities and actions for the promotion of the elderly in our society. FATEC represents around 345,000 of senior citizens in Catalonia, from senior centres, retirement homes, cultural centres, community centres and associations. There are more than 580 entities affiliated to FATEC. 

Rètol eleccions europees 2014FATEC has met several political parties to present AGE Manifesto and their priorities (see here).

We are welcoming Esquerra Republicana‘s support, which has integrated in its programme point 6 of AGE Manisfesto as to promote older citizens’ active participation in community and volunteer activities and to connect older citizens’ groups with their MEPs and other policy-makers, as well as point 2 on minimum income as a tool to fight against poverty among all age groups, especially children and older persons. Josep-Maria Terricabras, lead candidate for Esquerra Republicana has signed AGE Manifesto.

Moreover, we are happy to receive the support of Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds which commit to develop rights and resources to improve older persons’ living conditions. MEP candidate Ernest Urtasun has signed AGE Manifesto as well.

Last but not least, Francesc de Paula Gambús i Millet from the Convergència i Unió (CiU) party also supports AGE Manifesto.