AGE presents European Parliament Manifesto in Barcelona

Marking the International Day of Older Persons, AGE Platform Europe in collaboration with the European Parliament Office and the Representation of the European Commission in Barcelona organised on 5th October 2018 the seminar “Achieving Equal Rights and Dignity for Older Persons”. The event gathered several of the local decision-makers who work in the field of ageing from Barcelona and Catalonia as well as representatives of older persons and wider civil society.

This event was an opportunity for AGE to present the manifesto that we have prepared for the European elections in close consultation with our members.

A useful tool for EU, national and local policy-makers

The seminar was opened by the director of the Office of the European Parliament in Barcelona, ​​Sergi Barrera and Mark Jeffery, the head of the European Commission’s Representation in Barcelona. They both reaffirmed the interest of European Union’s bodies to promote policies that ensure the well-being and the quality of life of older persons.

Verònica Lope, member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament, referred to several urgent issues faced by older people in Spain and across the EU, including in terms of adequate pensions and the challenges faced by older people living in rural areas. At the end of her presentation Ms. Lope supported the AGE manifesto, which she considered a very good basis for action at European level, while also underlining that measures at national and local level are needed to address demographic ageing and guarantee the dignity of older people.

The panel at the Barcelona event

Nena Georgantzi, Policy Coordinator on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination of AGE Platform Europe, presented the main objectives of the manifesto emphasizing among other issues the need to fight ageism and the double discrimination faced by older women due to age and gender. She also made recommendations about how to better protect the rights of older people at EU level.

Neus Pociello, director of the Aroa Foundation and responsible for International Affairs for AGE member FOCAGG, explained that the AGE manifesto is a valuable tool not only for Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) but also for all those involved in national and local politics. She also highlighted that the process of producing the document with direct involvement of older people is very important as it reflects the genuine voice and needs of citizens. Moreover she added that the manifesto can act as an information and empowerment tool for older people to monitor action taken and hold accountable their elected representatives. Finally, she called for the need to engage several actors of civil society in order to pursue the objectives of the manifesto.

The event finished with a round of interventions from local actors, namely Ms. Laia Ortiz, Deputy Mayor of the Barcelona City Council, who stressed the influence of the European agenda on the local agenda and Mr. David Agustí, responsible for Ageing policies in the Catalan government, who explained the participatory process they have developed through the establishment of the Council of Older People of Catalonia. Finally, representatives of local non profit organisations (NGOs), including AGE members FATEC and FOCAGG, took the floor raising specific issues faced by older people at local level.

On the occasion of the presentation of the AGE manifesto in Barcelona, Nena Georgantzi also gave a radio interview, which is available here (in Spanish).

More information about the event can be found here (in catalan).

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

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: