European Accessibility Act: where do we stand?

End 2015 the European Commission proposed a Directive to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services by removing barriers created by divergent legislation. This will facilitate the work of companies while bringing benefits for older people and people with disabilities in the European Union. Continue Reading

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Council and Parliament adopt the revised directive on occupational pensions

In December, the Council of ministers of the EU has finally adopted the revised ‘Directive on Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision’ (IORP-II), regulating occupational pensions, after the approval of the European Parliament in its plenary session. The directive aims to strengthen requirements on the protection of beneficiaries, mainly through improved information, transparency and governance requirements. AGE has been accompanying the revision process started in 2014 and welcomes the adoption of the revision, while regretting that important improvements have been left out of the proposal.
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Call for more support for non-formal adult education

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution in its February Plenary on the Erasmus+ programme for education and training. The resolution highlights the importance of non-formal adult education and learning for integrating adults in the labour market and to promote their social inclusion. The Parliament calls for increasing the significance and visibility of non-formal education in Erasmus+ and the development of adult learning institutions.
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New resolution endorses call to protect older person’s rights

On 14 December 2016 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the ‘Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter 2015’, which includes a reference to older people’s human rights. The report of the European Parliament explicitly supports our call for a better use of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), an active involvement in the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing of the United Nations, and a new international legal instrument that would address the particular challenges of older persons, as highlighted in AGE general declaration and Human rights Manifesto adopted by AGE members during their general assembly in November.

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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 :

Parliamentary Watch: European Parliament says Erasmus+ should be ‘for all ages’

The European Parliament has adopted a report on the Erasmus+ programme and other tools to support life-long learning. The Erasmus+ programme centralises the programmes on training and education, formerly comprising Erasmus (students), Comenius (primary and secondary schools), vocational education and training (Leonardo Da Vinci) and adult education (Grundtvig).

What is there for older persons?

The Parliament deplores that especially vocational education and adult education have lost visibility in the Erasmus+ programme, often seen by outsiders as being only for higher education students.

The Parliament underlined here the importance of training and upskilling needs of long-term unemployed and as well as the role of senior citizens in training programmes. It demands in this new report that continuous vocational education and training should be taken into account by the programme and that mobility retraining programmes should be open for unemployed people of all ages. The Parliament calls upon the Commission to publish a Green paper on vocational education, training and mobility and the recognition of skills and competences in Europe

An important issue in the field of lifelong learning is the certification and recognition of skills: member states have very different systems of valuing skills from informal (non-certifying courses) and non-formal (gained by experience) skills. Even for formal qualifications, acquired during an Erasmus+ scholarship, recognition is not a given. The Parliament highlights these misgivings and calls for a stronger recognition of this issue.

AGE Platform Europe welcomes the Parliament report and its role in highlighting the importance of the Erasmus+ programme also for older citizens. Informal and non-formal education should have a greater role and its outcomes certified and recognised by a common framework, in order to value the rich experience of older workers. Erasmus+ has also an important role in supporting senior volunteering and therefore to develop active and thereby healthy ageing in Europe.

Read the report here.