Manifesto of senior citizens in Germany for the 2019 EP elections

Alongside a powerful appeal to vote in May’s EU elections, German AGE member BAGSO has published its own manifesto for the European elections.

In the manifesto, Germany’s senior citizens call for a ‘YES for Europe’ and calls on all voters to take part in the 2019 elections, which are about the shaping of the future of Europe. BAGSO highlights that while many of the EU’s performances are criticised and silenced, it has created decades-long peace between nations that were former enemies. Only together can the economic, ecological and social challenges be overcome. The following demands are put forward by BAGSO:

  1. We say YES to Europe: we have it in our hands whether Europe can develop its potential
  2. We say YES to a Europe for all generations: the future of all, including of older people, depends on the well-being of the coming generations. We want to build the future of Europe with the coming generations and call upon them to participate and decide on their future.
  3. We say YES to a Europe of long lives: While Europe and Germany experience longer lives, this is connected to challenges linked to social security, care, guaranteeing participation
  4. We say YES to a Europe of equality between women and men. This is not a reality everywhere; a crucial condition is equal pay for equal work, including in old-age income. Women and men should be equally represented in all institutions.
  5. We say YES to a Europe of guaranteed human rights: The protection of the rights of older persons has significant gaps, also in Europe. We are calling to strengthen the rights of older persons and to eliminate age discrimination. This concerns protection from violence, support for care needs, social security, life-long learning and inclusive labnour markets, self-determination, accessibility and mobility; this also concerns the right to asylum as a universal human right, as many of us have experienced forced displacement.
  6. We say YES to a Europe of participation and common ownership. Participation should be enabled for all, through collaboration of all generations. This includes taking part in the elections in the May 2019 elections, by voting for democratic representatives.
  7. We say YES to a Europe of diversity and tolerance. Our history has shown a disrupted and warring Europe, threatened by violence. This must not be repeated, there is sufficient space and prosperity to give everyone equal chances and a safe home. We speak out against racism, anit-semitism and other forms of exclusion.
  8. We say YES to good neighbourhood and peace. Europe is unique in its peaceful living-together of so many cultures. Europe is a champion of respectful living-together and dialogue on equal terms. Such a policy is needed more than ever on the global scene.
  9. We say YES to a sustainable Europe. Over 500 million people form the strongest economic area of the world, creating many freedoms and conditions for a good life in old-age. Working together on ecological, economic and social challenges is all the more urgent. The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 are a great promise of the United Nations to the world, to make it more human, and Europe has responsibility for this.
  10. We say YES to Germany in Europe. Germany was a geographic buffer zone before 1989. Since the German Reunification and the accession of central and eastern European countries, Germany is at the heart of Europe. We have gained our sovereignty, but achieved also responsibility for the future of Europe. Contributing to a reliable Europe also benefits Germany.

Click here to read the full manifesto of BAGSO (in German)

BAGSO has also co-signed a joint statement with the German Federal Youth Ring, the official representation of Youth in Germany.

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 

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

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