Ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections in June, we have officially launched our Manifesto together with key EU Officials and partners. Timely to sum up the main issues at stake in a rapidly ageing Europe.
The event, hosted by MEP Milan Brglez and MEP Jarosław Duda on 24 January, featured speakers from the Cabinet of Vice President Suica, European Commission, and Members of the European Parliament, offering insights into the challenges and accomplishments of the current legislature and vision for the next one.
Milan Brglez and Jarosław Duda, represented by his assistant Magdalena Rygalska, both welcomed the AGE Manifesto and its call for a European Age Equality Strategy.
Dr Heidrun Mollenkopf, the President of AGE Platform Europe, welcomed all MEPs present in the room, being among AGE strongest supporters. She addressed various critical issue, including the COVID pandemic, the challenge of rights-based long-term care polices, and the war in Ukraine, where older persons are among those especially affected. She pointed to the green paper and advances, and the AGE manifesto. Reminding that despite various initiatives addressing the impact of the pandemic and geopolitical events, a comprehensive EU-level policy on ageing is still lacking. AGE Platform Europe’s 2024 Manifesto calls for an inclusive Europe and advocates for the development and adoption of an EU Age Equality Strategy in the next legislature. Additionally, an intergenerational declaration, created in collaboration with the European Youth Forum, is upheld during and after the EP elections.
Her intervention was followed by the words of Mr Marco La Marca, from the cabinet of Vice President Suica, stressing the need to address the demographic shift and the need to adapt jobs to longevity, particularly for blue-collar workers. Mr La Marca commented on the inextricable links between improving internal and external action on age equality. He concluded reminding of the importance of preparing people for different life stages, advocating for a lifecourse approach that encompasses education, work, and retirement.
The event continued with contributions from MEP Katrin Langensiepen who delved into the intersection of ageism and ableism. She shared personal examples and emphasized the importance of tackling issues such as loneliness and the participation of everyone in society, advocating for those facing discrimination, such as LGBTQI individuals and people with HIV, as they age.
The outcomes of the EU Care Strategy adopted in 2022 were then discussed by MEP Milan Brglez and MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, recognizing the right to care and emphasizing autonomy and accessibility.
They were followed by MEP José Gusmão who reminded the need to better include demographic changes in the economic governance review. He also emphasised the sustainability of social security systems and the importance of addressing disability policy issues.
The question of a strategy on the rights of older persons was then raised by Sofia Lopez Piqueres, representing MEP Jordi Cañas. She emphasized combating age discrimination through a rights-based strategy, urging the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons and pushing for efforts in healthy aging, respectful care, and better assistance for those with complex needs.
Ms Lopez Piqueres was followed by a statement from MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos, who discussed the lessons learned from COVID-19, particularly the need for national plans and specific support, with a focus on the accessibility of care, the right to care, and the transition from residential care.
Annemie Drieskens, President of COFACE-Families Europe, outlined key priorities, including recognizing the role of informal caregivers and addressing the needs of older persons in family and community contexts. She emphasized the importance of family policies, investments in children, and age-friendly cities.
The closing remarks featured Miguel Angel Cabra de Luna, member of the EESC, supporting the Age Equality Strategy and the re-establishement of an intergoup on Solidarity between generations. He highlighted the potential support from demographic change in building a more inclusive society. María José Tarrero, Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU, emphasized the Spanish Presidency’s horizontal insight on aging, including council conclusions focusing on young people and mental health shared by both older and younger individuals.
Alongside the event, MEP Josianne Cutajar, strong advocate for senior citizens’ rights, welcomed the AGE manifesto. Supporting older people’s dignity and ability to age actively through her mandate in the European Parliament, she raised the alarm in the Transport and Tourism Committee against potential ageism in the revision of the Driving Licenses Directive. She also promoted digital skills for all citizens, making sure that all public services that are transitioning online remain with an offline option, such for the Digital Decade Programme, the Short-Term Rentals Regulation TRAN Opinion and the Interoperable Europe Act.
Overall, the event provided a comprehensive overview of the current legislative landscape, challenges faced by older individuals, and the imperative for a holistic EU Age Equality Strategy in the upcoming parliamentary term. It underscored the importance of addressing discrimination, promoting inclusivity, and recognizing the diverse needs of older persons across various policy domains.
The active participation of MEPs and stakeholders reflected a collective commitment to shaping policies that cater to the evolving needs of Europe’s ageing population.
AGE look forward to continuing a constructive and strong relationship with the newly elected MEPs after the European elections for the well-being of Europe’s ageing citizens.
Policy Officer on Employment and European Parliament Liaison