While the COVID pandemic closed the year 2020 full of uncertainties, revealing the magnitude of the socio-economic challenges ahead, the year 2021 has begun, bringing with it some hopes for renewal in many respects.
2020 heavy legacy
One of the lessons that most of us will take away from this pandemic is the importance of simple, unformal, spontaneous moments that we were suddenly deprived of for many months. Our dearest wish for this new year is now to be able to regain the freedom we enjoyed before the pandemic: going out with friends, attending cultural events, moving around freely, travelling… and hugging our loved ones. All these everyday acts, which were so banal and obvious before March 2020, now appear to us as precious moments that we should cherish.
At societal level, the past year has also been rich in lessons. The COVID-19 has violently reminded us of the close link between, on the one hand side, the resilience of public healthcare systems, the availability of social investments and the economic prosperity and, on the other hand, the individual and collective wellbeing, dignity and security. The pandemis has also revealed more blatantly than ever before the persisting ageism in the healthcare sector and in society in general.
2021 opens up new perspectives
This year will offer great opportunities that we intend to seize to progress towards a fairer and more cohesive Europe.
- Reforming our long-term care systems
After pinpointing significant shortcomings in the field of care for older people last year, this new year will be timely for AGE to promote a new approach to long-term care. With the help of a coalition of relevant actors and critical allies, we will be launching a campaign for the development of a new model of care.
- Implementing a more social Europe
The Action Plan foreseen by the European Commission to support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the new instrument designed to boost the recovery, NextGenerationEU, will be crucial to support EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. We will monitor these developments and make recommendations to make any new initiatives taken in this context as relevant to older people as possible. We will focus particularly on the issues of adequacy of old-age income and pensions (principle 15) and access to quality and person-centered long-term care (principle 18).
- Debating challenges and solutions for an ageing Europe
A major milestone will be the publication of an EU Green Paper on Ageing, planned by the end of January. The paper will launch a consultation to identify the challenges raised by EU’s ageing population, to assess whether national social protection systems are fit to deal with them, and to propose actions to address the needs of the rapidly growing share of older Europeans.
AGE will take part in the consultation and will campaign to support the participation of older people in the EU debate. Later, we will seek to contribute to the White Paper on Ageing that should follow from the European Commission.
- Breaking silos
The recently published joint commitments of the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies of the European Union of integrating ageing and a life course perspective in policies are another key steps towards a more inclusive and comprehensive approach of ageing (read our article). They will be particularly crucial for the follow up to the Green Paper on Ageing. We will work to contribute to Portugal and Slovenia’s agendas related to ageing issues to ensure the continuity of the work with the next Trio Presidency of France, Sweden and the Czechia.
- Making healthy ageing a global challenge
At global level, the Decade of Healthy Ageing of the World Health Organization (WHO) will provide another timely frame for AGE advocacy. This Decade has become a United Nations initiative, so strengthening its international dimension. The objective of the Decade is to improve the lives of older people, their families and communities, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Decade is underpinned by the principle that health is central to our experience of getting older and the opportunities that ageing brings.
Initiatives undertaken as part of the Decade will seek to:
- change how we think, feel and act towards age and ageing;
- facilitate the ability of older people to participate in and contribute to their communities and society;
- deliver integrated care and primary health services that are responsive to the needs of the individual;
- provide access to long-term care for older people who need it.
The WHO will issue a report dedicated to Ageism in 2021. More information on the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing can be found in this document.
- Strenghtening older people’s voice within the EU
As the largest EU network representing older people, we will keep relaying the views, concerns and needs of older Europeans into public sphere and debates We will focus on building the capacity of older people’s organisations to act as self-advocates and facilitate their participation in relevant EU processes.
We will furthermore support older people’s participation in the Conference on the Future of Europe, aimed to invite EU citizens to reflect on the Union’s future and introduce direct democracy in EU decision-making over the course of the next two years.
- AGE is turning 20
Last but not least, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our network in 2021. This will be a momentum to look back and reflect on our various achievements to make Europe a better place where people of all ages can enjoy equal rights, live in dignity, and contribute to and participate in socitety. This will be also the timely for AGE to reflect on future priorities and strategy in order to fully engage over the next decade in shaping a Union with opportunities for all Europeans.