AGE is governed by a series of guiding principles to which all organisations in membership of AGE must adhere. These principles intend to serve as a guide to AGE's members and secretariat when carrying out activities relating to policy influencing and development.
Principles for policy influencing
AGE actively campaigns in order for the EU to both develop specific policies, aimed at older and retired people as well as to incorporate the notion of ageing and older people into all other relevant EU policy initiatives, i.e. mainstreaming. Political campaigns are based on the views of AGE's members.
AGE's policy work has to reflect the political reality and needs to respond to relevant developments. However, this does not mean that AGE will meekly follow the priorities and initiatives of EU institutions, responding to these only. AGE should also play an active role in stimulating the institutions to initiate action on a number of fronts: AGE should adopt both a pro-active and a re-active approach.
Older and retired people are a resource
The main underlying principle of AGE's work is the recognition of older and retired people as a resource. The ageing of society is often seen in negative terms, i.e. in terms of challenges posed to the age structure of the labour force, the sustainability of social protection schemes and the financing and organisation and financing of (health care) services.
However, this negative image does not do justice to the enormous cultural and professional resource represented by older and retired people. Their vast contribution to society, often in a voluntary capacity, is too often overlooked and needs to be recognised. A change of attitudes is needed if society is to become a society for all ages.
Other cornerstones of AGE's work are:
- equal opportunities
- life course approach
- intergenerational solidarity
Guidelines for specific policy topics
> Intergenerational solidarity
AGE is committed to promote the idea of mutual transfer and dependence between the generations, the role of older persons as guardians of cultural heritage, experience and knowledge vis-à-vis younger generations.
Discrimination based on age is apparent in a number of fields such as:
- employment: access to jobs, but also early retirement schemes
- access to health and other services
- access to education and training
- right of residence in other EU countries
- participation in public and political life
AGE is committed to combating all forms of age discrimination in all areas of life and aims to monitor and influence the implementation of the various EU initiatives in this area.
AGE believes that all people should be able to enjoy a decent income after
retirement / in old age. This income should be guaranteed by means of indexed pensions and benefits. Family wages for women who have not been active in paid employment could be considered in order to provide access to pensions in later life.
While AGE recognises that the Member States are responsible for state pensions and social protection systems, we support the method of open co-ordination, which is being developed in this area.
AGE stresses the importance of a social Europe for those people not or no longer active in the labour market. While AGE recognises the economical necessity of extending working life (‘active ageing'), we believe that choice of the individual should be safeguarded.
AGE is committed to combat older workers unemployment, and will campaign for the recognition that experience and skills of older workers are vastly under estimated.
> Life Long Learning
AGE believes that everyone should be given the possibility of life long learning, regardless of current challenges to the labour market. Life long learning should stand for what is means: education and self-development throughout life.
AGE supports the conclusions of the 30th May Education Council's Resolution on Life Long Learning which stresses “that Life Long Learning must cover learning from the pre-school age to that of post retirement, including the entire spectrum of formal, non formal and informal learning. Furthermore, lifelong learning must be understood as all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/ or employment-related perspective.”
> Social participation
Social exclusion is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Low income and poverty are important elements but by no means the only ones. Access to services, reasonable quality housing, employment, social networks and support also have their role to play. Many older people are at risk of being socially excluded in some form or another:
AGE supports the notion of social inclusion in the widest sense, i.e. the need for all citizens to be able to have access to and participate in society. Integration is the key issue.
> Healthy ageing - Care and family carers
AGE supports those measures that will contribute towards healthy ageing, promoting home healthcare and avoid independency. AGE rejects chronological age as a reason to deny access to medical treatment or services.
AGE emphasizes that most of the care for older and retired people is provided in a family context. However, the family care potential is under severe threat due to declining birth rates, increased mobility, increased number of families breaking up and higher labour market participation by women. Measures should be taken in order to facilitate reconciliation of work and family life for those caring for an older relative or dependent. It is no longer realistic to only take childcare into account when politically addressing reconciling work and family life.
Older people should have a say in what kinds of care and services they would like to receive.