2024 EU election: kick-off of AGE campaign for a Europe for all ages

Six months before the votes for a new European Parliament, we want to recall the importance of working towards a Europe for all ages and suggest some strong, concrete measures at EU level to achieve tangible changes.

In 2021, the EU Green Paper on Ageing kicked off a lively debate which involved many stakeholders and highlighted how ageing should be better taken into account in EU initiatives and policies. This was a first step on which the European Union must build its work towards a society for all ages.

The next legislature will offer the momentum to put the outcome of all recent many fruitful debates into practice and effectively:

  • promote age equality,
  • foster participation and active ageing,
  • ensure autonomy and well-being.

Our newly released AGE Manifesto for the 2024 European Parliament elections calls on candidate member of the European Parliament (MEPs) to include these priorities in their political agenda and to support concrete measures and make a difference.

An EU Age Equality Strategy to fill legislation gaps

An EU Age Equality Strategy would aim to guarantee human rights equally at all ages and address barriers that keep us from living fairly and freely while we age. We are all getting older, but ageism and ageist beliefs persist, weakening social ties, undermining social inclusion and pitting generations against each other.
Currently, the only existing European framework against age discrimination is the Employment Equality directive, which only covers age discrimination in the labour market. According to our analysis, this directive is not applied equally across EU countries and much discretion is left to Member States to define age limits in employment and vocational trainings.
Next to the Employment Equality Directive, we have been calling for years now for the adoption of the horizontal equal treatment directive, to ban age discrimination in all areas of society, not only in employment. Unfortunately, this draft directive has been blocked by Member States since 2008.

An Age Equality Strategy would mark a new phase in fighting discrimination and promoting equality in old age by marking a positive change in the the narrative around ageing. It would set out coherent policies on ageing in all relevant domains. This Strategy could cover the initiatives such as educational awareness-raising campaigns to eliminate ageist practices. It could ensure that multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by older people are not sidelined and expand data collection, to allow for inclusive age-disaggregated data in line with the reality of ageing, to assess the potential impact of policies and programmes and inspire effective policies.

"In order to utilise the great potential of older people and make it usable for all generations, a comprehensive socio-political framework is required that does justice to the dynamic process of ageing in all its diversity.  This is why a “European Age Equality Strategy”, respectively, is so important for current and future European policy." 

An age equality service at the Commission to ensure consistency across the EU

To ensure the coherence of ageing policies across EU’s policies and between the EU and Member States, we call for a specific service that should oversee an Age Equality Strategy. Only a dedicated and adequately staffed Commission service, such as within the Directorate General Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), can ensure the coordination of all policies and all services and mainstream age equality.

The recent creation of a specific unit within DG JUST to work on age and non-discrimination was a major and welcome step forward. It has allowed us to discuss issues such as employment, intersectionality and digitalisation with representatives of the EU Member States. This unit is a privileged and essential interlocutor at the European Commission for AGE and its partners to work on policy areas where age equality should be better addressed.

To prepare for demographic change, the next European Commission should advance on a number of topics, such as equal access to essential services, healthy ageing, sustainable and quality working lives, adequacy of pensions and old-age minimum income, and protection against all forms of abuse and violence.
Solidarity between generations is a value enshrined in the EU treaties that also requires attention. Hand and hand with the European Youth Forum, AGE has built and disseminates an intergenerational declaration, calling for intergenerational dialogue and exchange of cultural, professional, technological knowledge and skills between younger and older people.

The Age Equality Strategy will also require the EU to take action on age equality in international fora, such as the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing and to support the drafting of a new UN convention in line with EU’s action plan on human rights and democracy.

A European Parliament Intergroup to mobilise efforts on ageing

At both national and European level, AGE works towards the involvement of current and future Members of the European Parliaments (MEPs), European political parties and groups toward the realisation of an EU Age Equality Strategy and a Europe of all ages. At national level, we could support three AGE members to meet with political parties and MEPs. Setting up national and/or regional events such as trainings, conferences and meetings, The Cyprus Third Age Observatory, Hellas50+, in Greece, and Bonum Vitae, in Poland, could bring the AGE Manifesto to a wider public and call for age equality.

At the same time, AGE is meeting political parties and political groups on EU level to disseminate the Manifesto, make recommendations and discuss potential synergies. Several Members of the European Parliament who are already involved with AGE in a number of policy areas will be at the heart of an event organised at the European Parliament in January 2023. This event will be an opportunity for AGE and the MEPs to reiterate the importance of pooling our strengths for a Europe for all ages. It is also the starting point for our campaign to MEPs, candidates and other partners to pledge their support for our manifesto on our dedicated Blog.



Sarah Loriato

Policy Officer on Employment and European Parliament Liaison

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