On 28th January 2021, Maciej Kucharczyk, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe, was invited to deliver his views at the European Parliament at the hearing “Consequences and lessons from the COVID-19 crisis for people living in residential institutions: a social and human rights perspective”. This was hosted jointly by the LIBE and EMPL committees.
In his speech, Mr. Kucharczyk referred to the very heavy death toll in residential care for older people across the EU:
“Over the first wave of the pandemic, older people in residential care suffered loneliness and exclusion, were often left abandoned, even to die. According to WHO estimates, around 50% of those who died of COVID-19 in the first wave were older people in residential care. But we lack of accurate and transparent data and the figures in many EU countries may be higher. To put it short: what we have witnessed is a flagrant violation of human rights, here, in the EU, before our very eyes”.
Mr. Kucharczyk called on the European Parliament to investigate what went wrong in Europe’s care systems and learn the lessons:
“In July, together with our partners of the European Disability Forum and the European Public Service Unions, we asked Members of the European Parliament to put in place an investigation into what has happened in residential care during the pandemic. Many MEPs supported our call. Today, we reiterate it: MEPs need to use their powers and investigate this humanitarian tragedy.
Members of the European Parliament can take the lead to ensure the EU takes forward concrete actions on long-term care, including through an own initiative report on care”.
In his speech, our Secretary General called on the European Commission to also play an active role, using all its powers to ensure quality long-term care is accessible for all in the EU:
“Care remains mainly a national competence, but the EU must play a key role in this respect. The principle 18 of the Pillar of Social Rights is unequivocal when it says that ‘everyone has the right to affordable long-term care services of good quality’. We cannot lose any more time to build a true right to long-term care.
Moreover, the EU should commit itself to equality at all ages. We encourage the Commission to work towards an EU Age Equality Strategy. For the moment, age equality is not covered by an equivalent strategy to those for other population groups. This means that older people remain to a large extent invisible”.
AGE will continue working with members and partners to make sure the EU lives up to its commitments and citizens’ expectations.
> You can watch the recording of the EP public hearing here
- AGE Press release and short report following the European Parliament debate on COVID-19 and long-term care on 8 October 2020
- Joint EDF-EPSU-AGE letter to the European Parliament calling to investigate the impacts of COVID-19 in long-term care
- AGE open letter to 3 EU Commissioners on long-term care
- EP resolution of 17 April 2020
For more information, please contact:
Borja Arrue-Astrain, Policy Officer, email@example.com