AGE presents its manifesto to European People Party’s President

On 19 December 2018, AGE Secretary-General Anne-Sophie Parent was invited to meet the President of the European People’s Party (EPP), Mr Joseph Daul and the Deputy-Secretary-General of the party. She discussed AGE expectations regarding the EU action to combat age discrimination and ageism, foster older workers’ access to the labour market, allow older persons to combine work and pensions and promote access to quality health and long-term care. Most proposals were met with enthusiasm by the EPP President.

Need to fight age discrimination as a clear signal to citizens

Ms. Parent outlined the challenge of clearly explaining to voters, especially older voters, what they can expect from the European Union and these elections, and how the European Parliament can influence older people’s lives. A concrete measure for this would be to make the fight against age discrimination and other grounds of discrimination more visible in EU internal and external action.’

JosephDaul_EPP_2
EPP President, Mr Joseph Daul


Caring for older people and their place in our societies is an important concern for the EPP. We must make sure that all generations can fully participate in the labour market and that nobody is discriminated because of age. We need safe and equitable pensions – for today and for future generations. Everybody should be able to live in dignity and to participate fully in our societies.’

Mr Joseph Daul, President of the European People’s Party

Employment and retirement policies that support active ageing

As Ms. Parent explained, combating age discrimination is also key for changing the perception of ageing and allowing older people to work for longer if they so wish. The EPP President agreed that it is a nonsense to prohibit working after retirement, as many sectors are lacking skilled workforce and work realities have changed in some sectors, making work less strenuous.

Both agreed that the EU has a role to play here. Ms. Parent shared some examples where AGE’s policy work has been decisive: in access to supplementary pensions, AGE successfully lobbied for reducing the vesting periods that workers need to start acquiring pension rights, a measure that benefits many younger workers who have much shorter job tenures in today’s labour markets.
    

Gender equality and solidarity between generations

Discussions also covered the crucial role of solidarity between generations, a key principle for AGE, as older people are first and foremost interested in the well-being of their grandchildren. Transformations such as the growth of new types of employment, that leave many young people without access to pension, unemployment or health insurance rights are a big challenge to them.

Furthermore, Ms Parent stressed the questions of gender equality, pointing out the large pension gap between women and men remaining and some pension reforms going against the idea of gender equality, such as the reintroduction of different pension ages for women and men. Both agreed that survivor’s pensions are an important right safeguarding many older women from old-age poverty.
  

The EU’s role in health policies

On health policies, Mr. Daul and Ms. Parent exchanged on the evolution in the European medicines market. Europe is more and more dependent on imports for basic medication, which poses not only a challenge for European jobs, but also for security from shocks in world trade and challenges for the security of drugs itself. This is a key area where the EU could take action to avoid shortages.

Mr. Daul and Ms. Parent convened that they would like to collaborate further to encourage older citizens to make an informed vote in this year’s European Parliament’s elections.
  

For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel Leroy at the AGE Secretariat: philippe.seidel@age-platform.eu 

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.

 

What will the European Left do for Europe’s older citizens?

What will European political parties do for older persons during the next term? We will publish here information on their Manifesto and highlight the commitments which matter for Europe’s senior citizens. Let’s continue with the European Left.

(Excerpts from the European Left Manifesto 2014, you may access the full Manifesto here)

 

European LEFTIt is a certainty that Europe is going through a deep crisis. The immense power left in the hands of financiers, the consequences of austerity policies and the recent democratic setbacks endanger the very idea of ​​a European “union”.

The manifesto presented today by the Party of the European Left seeks to trace the outline of a Europe refounded on a democratic, social, ecological and peaceful solidarity basis. It is the result of a joint effort. We propose the major lines of this transformation and the concrete steps to immediately improve the lives of Europeans.

Resisting austerity and putting social development at the centre of European policies, regaining power over finance and building democracy, increasing the rights of everyone: it is on this basis that we propose to all workers in Europe, to all citizens on the left, to trade unionists and social movements in Europe that struggle against austerity and capitalism for democracy and peace, that we unite our forces.

1. – Resist austerity, for a new model of social development
2. – A new model for ecological development
3. – Give power to the people, for a citizens’ revolution
4. – For a social Europe, for a Europe of rights
5. – For fair trade with the world. Reject the transatlantic market
6. – For a Europe of peace

 

What is of interest for older persons?

AGE welcomes European Left’s commitment to resist austerity, put social development at the centre of European policies and increase the rights of everyone. More particularly, the European left’s goal is to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all Europeans, men and women, by universal access to these rights, through public services and social security systems.

They also call for the creation of a European minimum wage adapted to the cost of living in the different countries.

AGE also welcomes proposals on universal access to health care, fight against health inequalities, and support of health promotion, including actions in the social determinants of health (work, housing, education, environment, food, sufficient pensions and social rights).

Last but not least, European Left also dedicates a part of their Manifesto to elderly people’s rights, addressing issues such as adequate public pension systems, phasing out of private pension funds and protection of older persons’ rights.

What will the European Greens do for Europe’s senior citizens?

What will European political parties do for older persons during the next term? We will publish here information on their Manifesto and highlight the commitments which matter for Europe’s senior citizens. Let’s continue with the European Greens.

(Excerpts from the European Greens Manifesto 2014, you may access the full Manifesto here)

 

We Greens believe that Europe is our common home and our future. Yet, that future is under threat. If the EU’s achievements are to be preserved and enhanced, now is the time for a fundamental political reorientation and for a democratic renewal of the European Union. To safeguard our common future we want to change Europe to strengthen it. That is why we stand for more solidarity, sustainability and justice.

Greens mobilise under the banner of social justice against social exclusion, of sustainability against austerity. We want to live our lives as people for whom security and opportunity are not just tales from yesteryear. Here, without doubt, the EU must change direction! We want to fight against youth unemployment, against homelessness, against poverty and hopelessness. Where member states individually refuse or fail to deliver, we can overcome that together as European citizens. Let us build a social Europe.

Europe needs a Green New Deal

Solidarity, solidity and sustainability
Laying the foundations of a social Europe
Bringing the financial industry under control
Public finances: Fair and effective taxation
RISE: Renaissance of industry for a sustainable Europe

One planet, our home!

European climate and energy law
Sustainability is the key
Priority for Green transport
Protect health and safety
Food not fuel
Better food, better lives
Greening agriculture
No to GMOs
More fish in the seas
Animal protection

Europe in the world

Human rights and poverty eradication
Domestic security policy
Working for peace
Fighting for fair asylum and immigration policies
Taking the lead on climate change
Pursuing a coherent enlargement and neighbourhood policy
For a fair trade policy

For a more vigorous democracy

Without gender equality there is no democracy
Citizens as European decision makers
Strengthen the role of parliaments
Fight corruption and fraud
More own resources for the EU budget
A Digital Bill of Rights
Uphold the rule of law
A Green democratic reform of the EU

 

What is of interest for European senior citizens?

AGE welcomes the objective to build a Social Europe, addressing issues such as solidarity, justice, social exclusion, unemployment, and fight against poverty. AGE is happy to see old age poverty mentioned as a key element of injustice. Moreover, Greens advocate for fair and gradually improving minimum social standards in Europe, notably in terms of pensions. They also commit not to tolerate discrimination on any ground, including age, and acknowledge the huge gap between the recognition of a right, the legal process it achieves and its implementation. More precisely, Greens oppose any age limits on access to public services and stand for the implementation of reliable basic standards in the pension models of all member states. Furthermore, they support the adoption of a more comprehensive policy approach against gender-based violence. Last but not least, Greens want to work for more participatory democracy.

What will European Liberals (ALDE) do for older persons?

What will European political parties do for older persons during the next term? We will publish here information on their Manifesto and highlight the commitments which matter for Europe’s senior citizens. Let’s continue with the European Liberals (ALDE).

(Excerpts from the ALDE Manifesto 2014, you may access to the full Manifesto here)

 

European Liberals are committed to building a stronger Europe to defend our common interests and values. We want a Europe with authority on the world stage. We want a Europe that boosts the economy and creates jobs. We want a Europe that is more transparent and accountable. A Europe that protects the safety and security of its citizens. A Europe of tolerance and equality, with strong civil rights and liberties. A Europe based on genuine democracy and the will of its citizens. A Europe that takes the lead in fighting climate change. A Europe that works for us all.

Liberals want a Europe which inspires trust, not fear; promotes prosperity and unity, not division.

Creating jobs and opportunities

We will prioritise the completion and expansion of the single market, not least in services, identify and create new opportunities for economic growth and greater innovation, and boost the EU’s competitiveness.

Eliminating excessive national rules and regulations as well as border controls, and ensuring free movement of workers, have helped businesses to be stronger and more competitive.

We will reinforce the single market in energy, the digital market, financial services, transport and healthcare sectors, while further facilitating the free movement of services and workers.

Setting new priorities

We need to rethink the whole budget process. We believe in a larger strategic objective to determine how our money is best spent. We call for an extensive reform of the financial system of the Union, both revenues and expenditure, ensuring that no countries contribute disproportionally.

The budget must be growth-oriented. We need to focus on innovation, research and development and support better education. The original goal of improving people’s lives has been overshadowed by bureaucratic bookkeeping. Wasteful subsidies must be abolished.

Restoring stable finances

Just as European citizens are expected to balance their household budgets and live within their means, we must ensure healthy public finances. We want a Union in which the criteria of the Stability Pact are adhered to by both the Union and its member states. The currency union can only be sustained if solidarity is combined with solid fiscal responsibility.

Stronger in the world and safer at home

While some want to highlight and exploit our differences, we believe our shared values and unity allow us to defend our common interests in the world and individual rights at home. Our strength will help us create jobs and improve people’s lives both within Europe and beyond our borders.

For an effective and transparent Europe

Within the lifetime of the next European Parliament we will support the calling of a Convention to develop the Union further in a democratic direction. By improving accountability for European politicians, we believe they can deliver more effective and efficient results for you.

The EU and its institutions need more transparency and less bureaucracy. We will continue our efforts to simplify EU rules and make them less burdensome.

 

What is of interest for European senior citizens?

AGE welcomes the clear focus of the European Liberals on employment. We believe much has to be done to improve the participation of older workers in the labour market. ALDE priorities on education and training can be of great support for older workers who are often excluded from occupational training. Moreover, ALDE’s calls to promote human rights, to better protect the vulnerable within the EU and to continue to fight discrimination of any kind are fully in line with AGE’spriorities to promote the realisation of human rights for all. AGE welcomes their commitment to create a mechanism to monitor violations of fundamental rights.

What will the European People’s Party (EPP) do for older persons?

What will European political parties do for older persons during the next term? We will publish here information on their Manifesto and highlight the commitments which matter for Europe’s senior citizens. Let’s continue with the  European People’s Party (EPP).

(Excerpts from the EPP Manifesto 2014, you may access to the full Manifesto here)

 

Over time, the EPP has become Europe’s largest political family, uniting parties of the centre-right across the continent.

We believe that Europe is a vast community of values and principles among which freedom, responsibility, justice, security, respect for the dignity of human life and equality between men and women. We want a healthy society with a new emphasis on solidarity between all Europeans. The European Union must become stronger, simpler and more democratic. The European institutions should focus on specific major issues while leaving other matters to the Member States; we do not want a centralised Europe. Yet we believe in a more politically integrated Eurozone, as we consider the euro to be a reliable currency that assures political stability and makes us more competitive internationally.

As the party of responsible government, we are determined to lead Europe out of the crisis and to create jobs and growth through reforms and smart investments, while preserving social cohesion and good standards of living for all Europeans.

  1. Creating a better Europe for all citizens

The EPP supports a European Union that tackles the big issues together, leaving the smaller issues to the capable responsibility of individual countries, and believes in building a more open, more responsive, more democratic Europe.

  1. From reform to growth

The EPP will create conditions that favour small and medium-sized businesses, family farms, start-ups and entrepreneurs, including R&D funding, private investment, and more accessible lending. It will also invest in education, research and technology, leading to innovation, new ideas, a competitive economy rooted in knowledge and new digital services.

  1. Building a social market economy to combine freedom and solidarity

The EPP will balance the principles of freedom and solidarity, champion an EU energy market, and invest in low carbon technologies.

  1. Movement of Europeans within Europe

The EPP sees mobility as an absolute right that benefits people, businesses and the economy: freeing our citizens to work at home and abroad.

  1. Controlling immigration into Europe to ensure internal security

The EPP demands greater cooperation between EU countries on border management, to show solidarity with countries that are on the front line of migration flows.

  1. Fighting organised crime

The EPP will lead the fight against terrorism and crime.

  1. Ensuring data protection as a human right

The EPP vows to reinforce citizens’ privacy rights, protecting personal data.

  1. Promoting peace and stability in a globalised world

The EPP will boost Europe’s Foreign, Security and Defence capacities – enhancing its ability to act in the world.

  1. Being more prudent about EU enlargement

The EPP favours judicious enlargement, while retaining the identity of the EU, and taking the EU’s capacity to integrate into consideration.

  1. Spreading democracy and the rule of law in our immediate neighbourhood

The EPP will work to create a prosperous, democratic and stable neighbourhood.

  1. Building a trustful Trans-Atlantic partnership

The EPP welcomes the trade negotiations with the US, as long as the agreement protects Europe’s high standards, and that important elements of our European identity are safeguarded.

  1. Making our development policy more effective

The EPP wants a development policy that is effective, accountable, aimed at reducing poverty, and is based on the principles of the Social Market Economy.

 

What is of interest for European senior citizens?

The EPP believes that the economy should serve the people, and not the other way around. We welcome this acknowledgement and believe this must be and remain the cornerstone of all policy developments. The creation of the right conditions for new and sustainable growth and jobs is mentioned as the EPP’s main priority for the next term. Moreover, they see data protection as a fundamental, inalienable human right. Privacy is a key principle for older persons, which must in particular be respected when developing eHealth, telemonitoring and more in general ICT for ageing well.

What will European Socialists and Democrats do for Europe’s Senior Citizens?

What will European political parties do for older persons during the next term? We will publish here information on their Manifesto and highlight the commitments which matter for Europe’s senior citizens. Let’s start with the Party of European Socialists (PES).

(Excerpts from the PES (Socialists and Democrats) Manifesto 2014, read PES full Manifesto here)

PESWe strongly believe that the European Union must change. Our political family of parties across 28 countries will dedicate themselves to fighting for a secure future for you. The right wing has created a Europe of fear and austerity. During 5 years of an EU conservative majority, we have fought for a strong, socially just and democratic Europe. But now it is time to lead from the front.

Our programme for the next 5 years of the European Union will bring back job creation, a productive economy, a sense of community and respect for people. We want to put you as a citizen and as a voter back in charge and bring back hope to Europe’s youth.

 

  1. It is time to put jobs first

All men and women must have a decent job that allows a good quality of life. The Socialists and Democrats will insist on the full implementation of the Youth Guarantee Plan, the introduction of an ambitious European Industrial policy, strong rules to guarantee equal pay for equal work, protection of workers’ rights and quality jobs, reinforcing trade unions’ rights, social dialogue and anti-discrimination legislation and the introduction of decent minimum wages across Europe.

  1. It is time to relaunch the economy

Austerity-only policy has harmed our economies and punished those least responsible for causing the crisis. Socialists and Democrats will prioritize innovation, research, training and smart reindustrialisation policy, the reduction of deficits in a sustainable and fair way, and the democratic control of economic coordination through a better involvement of the European Parliament and national parliaments.

  1. Putting the financial sector at the service of the citizens and the real economy

Europeans had to pay for the mistakes and irresponsibility of an unregulated financial sector. Socialists and Democrats will regulate the banking sector, cap bankers’ bonuses, speed up the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax, create an independent and public European credit rating agency, and build a robust Banking Union.

  1. Towards a social Europe

The Socialists and Democrats want the EU to support Member States in the effective and fair redistribution of wealth and opportunities. They believe that binding targets on employment, education and social cohesion are essential and that economic freedoms cannot outweigh social rights.

  1. A Union of equality and women’s rights

The principle of equality must be at the heart of what it means to be a European citizen. Socialists and Democrats will promote and enhance gender equality, end gender pay and pension gap and fight violence against women. They will promote a Union that protects against all forms of discrimination and safeguard the rights and well-being of children.

  1. A Union of diversity

Socialists and Democrats commit to fight against extremisms and for a Europe that respects everybody’s rights and obligations, including freedom of movement. They insist on the fact that everybody must have a real opportunity to participate and contribute to the societies they are living in.

  1. A safe and healthy life for all

European citizens deserve to live a safe and healthy life. Socialists and Democrats will protect Europeans’ right to enjoy safe food, safe products and a safe living environment. They want solid EU legislation on the data protection.

  1. More democracy and participation

Socialists and Democrats will promote a prominent role for the European Parliament as the EU institution representing its citizens.  They believe all policies must be efficient, respect democratic values, fight corruption and serve citizens in an open and transparent way.

  1. A Green Europe

The EU must regain global leadership on the protection of nature and natural resources. Socialists and Democrats will support clean technology and environmentally friendly production, project bonds to finance good investments in the green economy, renewable energy and technology and help citizens to reduce their energy bills.

  1. Promoting Europe’s influence in the world

Socialists and Democrats want Europe to have a strong voice and the proper tools to lead in promoting peace, democracy and shared prosperity. They will support the people struggling for democracy, social justice, non-discrimination and any form of occupation everywhere in the world.

What is of interest for European senior citizens?

AGE welcomes the clear mention of the need to protect workers’ rights and reinforce anti-discrimination legislation. This is indeed essential to ensure equal participation of older workers in the labour market. Moreover, Socialists and Democrats commit to fight for decent incomes for all, quality and affordable housing, healthcare and elderly care, and to invest in skills and life-long learning. They also see the adequacy of pensions as a priority.  Enhancing gender equality, including via the reduction of the pension gap, and ending violence against women are mentioned as well. Furthermore, they commit to fight against fuel poverty and will guarantee minimum access to energy for everyone; we believe this will improve the quality of many vulnerable older persons. Last but not least, they want to ensure that everybody have a real opportunity to participate and contribute to the societies they are living in.