Members of the European Parliament support the ‘Ageing Equal’ campaign

The Members of the European Parliament Intergroup Subgroup on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations release and endorse the joint statement below for the International Day of Older Persons and the kick-off of the “Ageing Equal” campaign.

  • VAN NISTELROOIJ Lambert (EPP/Christen Democratisch Appèl, Netherlands, Co-Chair
  • BECKER Heinz K. (EPP/Österreichische Volkspartei, Austria), Co-Chair
  • KUKAN Eduard (EPP/Independent, Slovakia), Vice-Chair
  • VAJGL Ivo (ALDE/DeSUS, Slovenia), Vice-Chair
  • ENIFEI Brando (S&D/Partido Democratico, Italy)
  • KONEČNÁ Kateřina (GUE-NGL/Komunistická strana Cech a Moravy, Czech Republic)
  • PIETIKÄINEN Sirpa (EPP/Kansallinen Kokoomus, Finland)
  • RIBEIRO Sofia (EPP/Partido Social Democrata, Portugal)

The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a great reminder that human rights remain equally valid as the time passes. Similarly, no one should be denied her or his human rights because of age.

Building on the momentum of the celebrations surrounding this 70th anniversary, the “Ageing Equal” campaign kicking off today, on the International Day of Older Persons, gives the European Parliament the occasion to take a strong stand against ageism.

Several policy initiatives – first and foremost the European Pillar of Social Rights – give the European Union the opportunity to take action to protect and promote older persons’ rights and equality in old age.

Members of the European Parliament, in particular of the Intergroup Subgroup on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, warmly welcome these 70 days of debate and action that will invite all Europeans to reflect and challenge the perceptions of society on ageing. Time has come to ensure that social justice and equality apply to all of us also when we reach old age!

More information about the ‘Ageing Equal’ campaign

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Intergenerational fairness: which challenges, which solutions? – report of joint EP event

Do people of different ages feel they are treated fairly by public policies? Which are the choices public finances need to make in the process of demographic change? These were the topics of a lunch debate organized in the European Parliament on 21 June 2018 by AGE and the European Youth Forum and hosted by the Intergroup subgroup on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. (You can view the agenda of this event here). The background was the release of a report by the Commission showing the impact of demographic change on public finances until 2070 and a survey conducted by the professional body of chartered accountants ICAEW.
  

MEPs call for better dialogue on intergenerational issues

Mr Heinz Becker, MEP (EPP/Austria) and Co-chair of the Intergroup subgroup on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations declared that, despite what is often said, there is no conflict between younger and older people: solidarity between generations already exists between grandparents and grandchildren. He proposed that impact assessments of all legislation should systematically look at the effect on older and younger people.

Mr Brando Benifei, MEP (S&D / Italy), Vice-chair of the intergroup subgroup, said that the challenges linked to demographic change have to be solved by building trust between generations. He explained that the European Parliament’s work on youth unemployment or European personal pensions aim to build this trust, and that it is important to maintain dialogue between generations.

Mr Lambert Van Nistelrooij (EPP/Netherlands), Co-Chair of the Intergroup subgroup, emphasised that the European Parliament must continue to build strong results to improving intergenerational fairness, supported by the economy.

EU study: demographic change will mean rising pension and health care costs, but will be contained in the long term

The European Commission, represented by Mr Santiago Calvo Ramos, presented the outcomes of a study it has conducted together with member States from the Economic Policy Committee. The ‘Ageing Report’ tries to predict the evolution of public finances in light of demographic change until 2070, mapping the costs for education, health and long-term care, pensions and unemployment benefits. He explained that while public expenditure will rise strongly until roughly 2040, it will probably fall again afterwards to lead to an about 1.7 % (of GDP) increase of public budgets by 2070. The reality might even be a bit better, if pension reforms that have been announced and planned will be implemented. Some costs are however difficult to predict, as health care costs can evolve with technological developments. For long-term care, costs are presently quite low, because there is a strong reliance on informal (unpaid) care. With more people in need for care, the development of infrastructure will mark a very strong increase in this domain.

Survey: All generations have the same distrust in governments, but no competing priorities

Dr Susanna Di Feliciantonio presented a survey conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales, a professional body. The survey, covering 10,000 respondents from 10 European countries, addressed perceptions of intergenerational fairness of public policies. Alarmingly, only ¼ of Europeans trust their government to take the financial impact of policy decisions on future generations into account – a view shared by all age groups. ICAEW also asked respondents which policy areas should be prioritised, and different age groups largely agreed to a set order of priorities – the most important being to fight poverty and unemployment, followed by financing pension systems and care, education, fair taxation, acting for the environment and, as the lowest priority, reducing public debt. The results were broadly similar across countries. Respondents agreed that these priorities should be the responsibility of governments, not of individuals. For Dr Di Feliciantonio, the study highlights the importance of trust and transparency in policy-making, and indicates the need to better explain possible trade-offs to European citizens.

Young people: more representation needed, disadvantages in housing and care policies

Anne Widegren, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, presented the perspective of young people. The welfare system should be based on intergenerational solidarity and bring responses to demographic change. It is important to enhance confidence of Europeans into their lives and futures, and that is a role of EU social policy. Ms Widegren supported the call for generational impact assessments in policy-making. She emphasised that there is a tendency to pit generations against each other – but this should be resisted. Generations need to come together to be stronger. Young people are under-represented in politics and therefore also in policy. As the population of the European Union is ageing, discrimination and ageism increasingly goes against young people. Housing is an important example, as they cannot own their housing, cannot afford to live alone in big cities. Especially those who do not have the help from their parents clearly face discrimination in the housing market. Age discrimination also happens to older people, acting differently, however.

When the welfare system fails to adapt to the changes in society, there is more pressure on generations. This is the case in informal care. Many carers are young people who are close to their older relatives, and many of them are women. To tackle this injustice, proper investment in care systems and work-life balance policies are all the more important.

To avoid pitting generations against each other, Ms Widegren called for a new social pact to pay more attention to intergenerational fairness.

Common challenges for older and younger people: ageism, learning, pensions, care

Philippe Seidel, AGE Policy Officer, spoke for AGE Platform Europe, highlighting the shared concerns across generations, and the shared problem with trust. AGE supports the new approach to the Justice and Values fund, as it is clearly – amongst others – dedicated to fight age discrimination, an issue for both the young and the old. Another common call is the Erasmus programme: it is good news for younger people and older adults that the funds are doubled in the European Commission’s proposal, but adults are not taken into account as learners, only their teaching staff is included in the mobility programmes.

When reforming pension systems, all generations need to participate in the debate, which is often not the case. Citizens do not trust governments for ensuring their pensions – if they were asked whether they trusted banks, the answer would probably have been worse, though. It is an important message that government have to urgently address. Another common area is precariousness and access to social protection. Both younger and older people find themselves in atypical employment, in particular younger people. This reduces their future pension rights and leads to an erosion of incomes of social protection systems. We should be together addressing this. Supporting those who need care should be seen as a societal task. The burden for long-term care, education and childcare should be supported by society and not fall only on the shoulder of families.

Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, added that there is a missing European Pact on Intergenerational Fairness. This would allow different units and the European Commission’s directorates to work together to get a larger view. For example on pension adequacy, we often look at what people receive, not at what they have to pay for – including long-term care. All EU institutions – Commission, Parliament and Council – have to understand that they have to rebuild trust to reconcile older and younger voters.
For further information on this event and on AGE related work, please contact Philippe Seidel at philippe.seidel@age-platform.eu

Recent background documents:

Work-life balance, women in poverty and gender pension gap: gender equality on the agenda of European Parliament and Council

While the Parliament has put emphasis on the fight against poverty of women in a recent report, the Council of ministers of social affairs has also supported action to fight poverty of women in conclusions negotiated under the Slovakian presidency. The Council calls for the implementation of the Commission’s roadmap on work-life balance, the proposed European pillar of social rights, and to include two new indicators on the at-risk-of poverty rate of migrant women and of inactive women, including by age groups. The Parliament went further and supports the call for recognising care periods through care leave arrangements, employee-driven flexible working time, care credits in pension schemes and supporting services. AGE welcomes many of the points taken up by the Parliament and the Council, but considers that some points are missing. Continue Reading

European Parliament endorses EU directive for web accessibility of public websites

On 26th October 2016, the European Parliament approved the EU Directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies. The new rules establish a set of criteria and technical provisions to enable everyone, including people with disabilities (in particular vision or hearing impairments), to have access to online data and services provided by public sector bodies.

Read more on the European Commission website

This rewards AGE Platform Europe’s campaign, started several years ago together with the European Blind Union (EBU), the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European Organisation representing Consumers in Standardisation (ANEC), in favour of a binding legislation on web accessibility. Our common objective was to ensure that public sector websites and websites delivering basic services to citizens are made accessible to all.

Useful links :

Members of the Parliament call for the promotion of sports for active ageing

On 18 November 2015, Members of the European Parliament have called for a more active promotion of sports including for older persons. AGE Platform Europe and the Italian Kung-Fu Federation FIWUK have demonstrated how Tai Chi can be practiced by people of all ages, including while sitting.

201511 TaiChi Cocktail

Member of Parliament (MEP) Marian Harkin emphasised that sports are part of inclusion into society and that, therefore, promotion of sports is a fulfilment of article 25 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights that guarantees the right of older persons to live independently and in dignity. MEP Van Nistelrooij, Coordinator of the EP intergroup subgroup on active ageing and solidarity between generations, highlighted the important benefits to health of sports, including by preventing chronic diseases and preventing falls. Also Mr Tarabella, MEP outlined the work of the intergroup on sports in raising the importance of sports in the European agenda, including for intercultural exchange.

Vincenzo Drago, president of the Italian Federation of Wushu Kung Fu, explained the history of Tai Chi and gave information about an Erasmus+ project that his federation manages and that promotes Tai Chi for older persons and at the workplace. Two Tai Chi masters from Italy gave a demonstration of this Chinese martial art.

Member of the Parliament Alojz Peterle, Vice-President of the intergroup subgroup on active ageing and solidarity between generations, stressed also the ethical underpinning of Tai Chi, aimed at protecting the weaker. He underlined that with due regard to sports, growing older can be transformed into growing healthier. He also underlined that sports can help to reduce cancer

Mr Szabolcs Horvath from the European Commission outlined several actions that the European Commission has taken in the past to promote sports, also for the benefit of public health budgets and quality of life of older people. Actions of the EU include the European Week of Sports, organised for the first time in 2015, a 2013 Council Recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity and funding that is available for exchanges in sports through the Erasmus+ programme.

Mr Heinz K. Becker, Vice-President of the Parliament’s intergroup subgroup on active ageing and solidarity between generations highlighted the work of the Parliament on a report on the European dimension of sports. He stressed the importance of reducing corruption in sports, as this may put away many citizens from this. He also emphasised the importance of sports promotion and its role in reducing diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General of AGE Platform Europe, expressed that sports also have an important intergenerational dimension, as soft sports such as Tai Chi can be practiced by grandparents and children together. She also underlined that such a sport, included at the workplace, supports employability and motivation of workers.

Read the full report of the meeting here

 

AGE warmly welcomes the official launch of the Intergroup on Active ageing, Intergenerational solidarity and Family policies

A large number of MEPs have today officially launched the Intergroup on Active ageing, Intergenerational solidarity and Family policies. AGE Platform Europe, the EU largest network of organisations of and for older persons, welcomes their initiative and looks forward to a fruitful collaboration on issues related to ageing and intergenerational solidarity.

Two days after the first EU Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing, AGE welcomes the official launch of the Intergroup on Active ageing, Intergenerational solidarity and Family policies. For many years now, AGE has been closely working with the previous Intergroup on ageing and intergenerational solidarity, leading to key progresses on many EU dossiers. We hope to maintain this privileged relationship with the new Intergroup, now merged with the former Family Intergroup, and make further progress to adapt Europe to population ageing.

The re-establishment of this long-standing Intergroup was a big success for older citizens’ and their organisations,” said Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, adding  “AGE Platform Europe agrees with European Commission President Juncker’s acknowledgement that Europe has not done enough yet to address population ageing and we believe the Intergroup will help the European Parliament voice older citizens’ concerns and recommendations in EU policy debates that seek to help Member States address their demographic challenges.”

The Intergroup will work in two groups, one dedicated to active ageing and the other one dedicated to family policies, while the issue of intergenerational solidarity will be mainstreamed in all of the Intergroup’s activities. AGE members therefore look forward to collaborating with the MEPs involved in the subgroup on Active Ageing, notably on President Juncker’s investment plan, the adoption of the long-awaited equal treatment directive, and the shaping of an EU Strategy for Demographic Change.

Lambert van Nistelrooij, Member of the European Parliament for the EPP and coordinator of the subgroup on Active Ageing added: “I have been a member of this Intergroup since 2004. Technology plays an important role in active ageing, for example it can ensure that older persons can stay at home longer. Within the subgroup on Active ageing I will therefore focus on stimulating innovation and technological development in the area of active ageing. ”

AGE will monitor and report on the Intergroup’s activities on its blog “Towards an Age-Friendly European Parliament”. We hope that this blog will become a collaborative platform on what the new European Parliament will do to address demographic change and to find fair and sustainable solutions for the future of all generations.

List of Members of the Intergroup Subgroup on Active Ageing:

  • Vice-Presidents

Lambert van Nistelrooij (NL, EPP) (Coordinator of the Subgroup)

Heinz K. Becker (Austria, EPP)

Alojz Peterle (Slovenia, EPP)

Josef Weidenholzer (Austria, S&D)

Ivo Vajgl (Slovenia, ALDE)

Marian Harkin (Ireland, ALDE)

Jean Lambert (UK, Greens)

Claude Moraes (UK, S&D)

  • Members

Heinz K. Becker (Austria, EPP)

Ivo Belet (Belgium, EPP)

Brando Benifei (Italy, S&D)

David Cada (Malta, EPP)

Nessa Childers (Ireland, S&D)

Carlos Coelho (Portugal, EPP)

Andor Deli (Hungary, EPP)

Christian Ehler (Germany, EPP)

Jose Manuel Fernandes (Portugal, EPP)

Monika Flasikova-Benova (Slovakia, S&D)

Elene Gentile (Italy, S&D)

Arne Gericke (Germany, ECR)

Ana Gomes (Portugal, S&D)

Enrique Guerrero Salom (Spain, S&D)

Marian Harkin (Ireland, ALDE)

Katerina Konecna (Czech Republic, GUE/NGL)

Adam Kosa (Hungary, EPP)

Eduard Kukan (Slovakia, EPP)

Jean Lambert (UK, the Greens)

Olle Ludvigsson (Sweden, S&D)

Roberta Metsola (Malta, EPP)

Francisco Jose Millan Mon (Spain, EPP)

Marlene Mizzi (Malta, S&D)

Claudia Monteiro de Aguiar (Portugal, EPP)

Claude Moraes (UK, S&D)

Jozsef Nagy (Slovakia, EPP)

Lambert van Nistelrooij (NL, EPP)

Alojz Peterle (Slovenia, EPP)

Sirpa Pietikainen (Finland, EPP)

Paulo Rangel (Portugal, EPP)

Sofia Ribeiro (Portugal, EPP)

Robert Rochefort (France, ALDE)

Fernando Ruas (Portugal, EPP)

Csaba Sogor (Hungary, EPP)

Ivan Stefanec (Slovakia, EPP)

Jutta Steinruck (Germany, S&D)

Ivo Vajgl (Slovenia, ALDE)

Josef Weidenholzer (Austria, S&D)

Pablo Zalba Bidegain (Spain, EPP)

Jana Zitnanska (Slovakia, ECR)

Intergroup on Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity re-established!

Brussels, 11 December 2014

Decision on the European Parliament’s Intergroups

Today, the European Parliament has given its final approval on the establishment of Intergroups. AGE Platform Europe warmly welcomes the re-establishment of the long-standing Intergroup that will deal with ageing and intergenerational solidarity and looks forward to working with MEPs to help Europe address its demographic challenge in a positive way.

The re-establishment of this long-standing Intergroup is a big success for older citizens’ and their organisations. We have been working hard with our member organisations across the EU to raise awareness among new Members of the European Parliament and Commissioners on the need to address Europe’s demographic challenge in a way that is fair and sustainable for all generations,” said Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, adding  “AGE Platform Europe agrees with President Juncker’s acknowledgement that Europe has not done enough yet to address population ageing and we believe such Intergroup will help the European Parliament voice older citizens’ concerns and recommendations in  EU policy debates that seek to help Member States address their demographic challenges “

“By joining the Intergroup on Active Ageing, Intergenerational Solidarity and Families Policies, MEPs can play a crucial role in proposing a vision of a society for all ages that supports the active participation of older citizens, enhances economic growth, supports greater social justice and cohesion and strengthens the rights and responsibilities of all generations”, Mrs Parent continued.

AGE Members look forward to collaborating with their MEPs, notably on President Juncker’s investment plan, the EC Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change and the adoption of the long-awaited equal treatment directive in order to tackle age discrimination and the rise of poverty among older persons. MEPs have a key role to play to help Europe remain the best place to age actively and healthily and this Intergroup will have the mandate to push for innovative and forward-looking policies and initiatives.

AGE will monitor and report on the Intergroup’s activities on its blog “Towards an Age-Friendly European Parliament” and we hope this blog will become a collaborative platform on what the new Parliament will do to address demographic change and to find fair and sustainable solutions for the future of all generations.