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.

4826655-01.jpg

 

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.

 

Better homes for a better Europe: The affordable housing sector and the elderly

Picture of the Manifesto Housing Europe

CECODHAS Housing Europe, the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing in light of the- what are expected to be- most important and challenging European Elections of the modern European history has identified “9 paths to better homes for a better Europe”. In its European manifesto, the organization that represents 41 member organizations from 19 countries in Europe charters the situation in the affordable housing sector across the EU and suggests concrete measures that need to be taken.

Europe needs to deliver and improve the living conditions of those in need. This is why the proposed actions stand on three pillars that will lead to better public budgets in each Member State as well as for Europe as a whole. As stated in the manifesto that may be found online on the CECODHAS Housing Europe website:

“FIRST, we must work towards greater well-being for Europeans to restore confidence, social stability, avoid further societal inequalities and boost local job creation.

SECOND, we must support the right long-term national and European social investment by ensuring better resources for social, public and co-operative housing. This will help us move towards a more resource-efficient and healthy Europe as well as lower socio-economic costs.

And THIRD, we must ensure stable and responsible European housing markets to avoid further recession of European economy and to support sustainable growth. We must learn from past mistakes to build a better future.”

Ageing always on the housing agenda- The case of the HOST project

Age related issues have always been an integral part of the housing agenda and an important element in CECODHAS Housing Europe advocacy objectives and work. Social, public and cooperative housing sector is able to guarantee alongside with access to decent housing, which is fundamental human right, a social mix that leads to social stability within modern urban districts. Furthermore, social housing providers are in position to bring and added value and offer a wide range of services to people who have more needs such as the elderly.

CECODHAS Housing Europe has taken part in the HOST project that was recently concluded, offering some rather encouraging outcomes that are related to social housing providers and the use of technology. The Host project was launched in 2011 as a setup of experimentations and exchange of practices between 4 European countries- Italy, France, UK and Spain- and enabling the dialogue between different models of social housing organisations, such as the French generalist model of social housing and the Italian and English specialised model and the collaboration between different actors, such has housing providers, universities and institutional actors.

The main project outcomes show that a participatory, bottom up approach to the application of new devices in a living environment, i.e. when the receivers of the service, in this case the elderly, are involved in the process of designing the devices according to their needs and expectations, there is a cost efficient approach that not only leads to the creation of more functional tools, but also contributes to the creation of new relationships among elderly living in the same community. Such an approach also strengthens the relationship between the elderly and the providers of health and social care services, thus responding to the problem of isolation and providing more effective response to real needs.

Future steps

CECODHAS Housing Europe strongly believes that the affordable housing sector is tailored to the needs most elderly people have across the EU. Therefore it is committed to continue its advocacy work to better tackle these needs and make the EU and its cities and built environment more age-friendly. We will do so by investing in alliances with other devoted organisations like the AGE Platform.

Sweden: Presentation of AGE Manifesto at the the Swedish Parliament

The AGE Manifesto was presented to national parliamentarians and parties at a breakfast meeting in the Swedish Parliament hosted by MP Barbro Westerholm and PRO Global, a pensionist organisation specially dedicated to global issues. At the meeting representatives fron four parties showed up.

Read more here (in Swedish).

Från vänster Bengt Sibbmark, PRO, Catharina Bråkenhielm (S), Agneta Carleson, PRO Global, Ann-Britt Åsebol (M), Lena Ekroth, PRO Global, Barbro Westerholm (FP), Eva Rosengren, PRO Global samt Magnus Sjödahl (KD).Inför EU-parlamentsvalet den 25 maj sprider vi information till kandidater. Exempelvis hade nyligen föreningen PRO Global och Barbro Westerholm (FP) ett frukostmöte i riksdagen.

Under mötet presenterade PRO Global det EU-manifest som bland annat PRO tagit fram inom äldreorganisationen AGE Platform Europe. EU-manifestet fungerar som en påminnelse till politiker att de har ett ansvar för att även äldre ska ses som fullvärdiga medborgare.

– Det är viktigt att EU, som den största biståndsgivaren i världen, även prioriterar de äldre. De äldre blir ju relativt sett en större andel i befolkningen, sade Lena Ekroth, ordförande i PRO Global.

Sprida manifestet vidare

Riksdagsledamöterna Catharina Bråkenhielm (S), Magnus Sjödahl (KD) och Ann-Britt Åsebol (M) deltog under frukostmötet. PRO Global uppmanade ledamöterna att stödja manifestet och ta med det till sina partier.

– EU är viktigt för äldre i Europa. Vi måste hjälpas åt och motarbeta diskriminering av äldre i alla EU-länder, sade Barbro Westerholm (FP).

Belgium: How can the EU improve the lives of older people according to the Flemish political parties?

May 25th, the citizens in Flanders will be able to cast their votes for the Flemish, federal and European elections. To facilitate their choice on who to vote for, the Flemish Council of the Elderly has asked all democratic parties that participate in all three elections for their positions on the issues that matter for older people.

Below, you can read what they would do at EU level to improve the lives of older people. You can find the entire brochure here (Dutch only).

Groen

Green party, member of the European Green Party (EGP)

At European level, we turn around the race to the social bottom. At this moment, every country competes to keep the pension burdens as low as possible. Instead the member states should decide to implement minimum limits for pensions that are adequate to eradicate poverty. We investigate the possibility to implement a European basic pension that can vary based on national poverty thresholds. This way, we change disloyal competition into cooperation.

By 2020 the European Union wants to lift 20 million people out of poverty, but her actions on social issues are too weak to realize this goal. Therefore, Groen wants powerful European instruments for poverty policy, for example binding EU directives. Specifically for older people, a directive will be introduced aiming to reduce poverty among older people drastically by 2020. Another directive will ensure that all pension benefits will be linked to the evolution of the wages in each member state, and not just to inflation,.

Open Vld

Liberal party, member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party)

Pensions, elderly care and healthcare will need more financial meansbecause of demographic ageing. This is why Open Vld aims at economic growth, so we have strong fundaments to build up our social policy. And the importance of Europe for our prosperity cannot be underestimated.

Open Vld is the most pro-European party. We want to address the cross-border economic and social challenges together. Several examples: it’s at the European level that we must ensure that banks start to give funding to small and medium enterprises (SME’s) again, that we can guarantee the supply of energy and that people in other member states can go to work (and carry their pension rights with them, as was decided recently). In the last few years, Europe has strengthened competition, reducing the prices for consumers (for example in mobile phones services). We should follow this road in the coming years, especially with regard to trade in services. We also want a greater role for the European Union in the active approach against cross-border criminality, terrorism and violent racism.

In short: the strong European Union that Open Vld with Guy Verhofstadt is working towards, must ensure the prosperity and well-being of the European citizens.

Sp.a

Social-democratic party, member of the Party of European Socialists (PES)

There is no future for the European Union, unless it’s a social one. Every European, old or young, should be able to count on a guaranteed minimum of social protection with universal access to health care, income support and livelihood. Europe should keep a close eye on the member states, to ensure that they deliver the necessary efforts to combat poverty, unemployment and inequality. Just like she does for the budgets of her member states.

Europe must stimulate more sustainable and efficient care. The budget control in the European Semester is an important instrument to encourage member states to address the inefficiencies in their health care systems, like encouraging smart spending and maximizing health gains. We will strengthen the European Social Investment Pact, which aims to help member states to spend their social and health care budgets more efficiently, in order to increase the expediency of the health care systems. We also improve the guidance of member states when they receive financial support, like the European Social Funds.

In Flanders, a person loses on average one healthy life year because of exposure to air pollution. On top of that, this exposure is distributed very unevenly. For sensitive persons, like older people, children or asthma patients, this number is even higher. Emissions of particulate matter is an environmental problem that is passed on to the weak. Sp.a pleads for stronger regulation of the standards for emissions of particulate matter at European level, that takes the health effects of these emissions into account en that is based on the standards of the World Health Organisation.

N-VA

Flemish-national party, member of the European Free Alliance (EFA)

For the N-VA, it is crystal clear that the essential element for improving the lives of older people is a structurally healthy economic foundation. You simply cannot create social welfare, for older people as well, on an economical graveyard. Therefore, the European economy needs stability. A well-functioning euro and a solid economic foundation are important, not in the least for social progress. Europe should focus itself fully on structurally restoring the economic foundations of its member states. First of all, this means that the member states must take responsibility and restore the confidence of the financial markets. It’s very important that they carry out the necessary budget cuts, reforms and investments.

In the context of the EU 2020 targets, encouraging innovation is crucial. In this view, among others the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing was launched. The N-VA stimulates its further elaboration and encourages Flemish actors to participate in this as much as possible.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are important challenges. The members of the European Parliament of N-VA have always had a specific focus for this issue, which is why they are part of the working group on Alzheimer’s disease in the European Parliament.

CD&V

Christian-democratic party, member of the European Peoples Party (EPP)

Europe aims at active and healthy ageing. In 2025 more than 20% of the European people will be 65 years or older. The fact that people live longer, is a success story. Our European policy wants to increase the success of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. Our goal? To increase the amount of healthy life years with 2 years by 2020.

Active ageing also means being able to travel freely through Europe or having the choice to settle oneself in another member state, with the same access to health care as in the home country and without losing pension rights. This is an important achievement for our way of life and quality of life. But not all elderly have these possibilities. There are still member states where no minimum pension is in place and/or where older people don’t receive adequate care. Guaranteeing a decent standard of living, improving a healthy and dignified way of ageing, and at the same time ensuring the safety and sustainability of the social security systems, have a high priority for us.

And of course we also put up efforts for older people who reside in our own country. In the European Parliament, we encourage far-reaching coordination of the pension systems of the member states, and make the member states reform their pension systems in order to safeguard them financially and to ensure they provide an adequate standard of living.

PVDA+

Socialist party, currently not represented in the European Parliament

The European Commission aims for the privatization of our pensions. The legal pensions are being reduced to a minimal protection against poverty. Everything else is transferred to the private market.

For PVDA+, these are the wrong policies. Private pensions are pensions of inequality. A company’s CEO puts millions of euro’s in his occupational and private pension, while receiving many fiscal benefits. An employee only several thousand euro’s. That won’t bring much to the table when the health care and hospital bills arrive.

Legal pensions are the best pensions, not only from the perspective of solidarity, but also in spreading risks and protecting people’s rights. They will be sustainable when we realize a fair fiscal system. Nowadays, large companies pay almost no taxes. Flanders is a fiscal hell for those who work, and a fiscal paradise for those who speculate.

The Belgian Advisory Committee for the Pension Sector (now called the Federal Advisory Board for Older People) demands the introduction of a property tax. The PVDA+ supports this demand (a tax of 1% on properties of 1 million euro, family residence not included). Such a tax already exists in France and delivers good results.

There is no reason not to introduce this in Belgium. There is also no reason not to introduce them on a European level, together with a more efficient approach regarding fiscal fraud, by lifting bank secrecy, the transparency of financial transactions and a zero tolerance against big fraudsters.