photo by Alex Blajan on Unsplash
Older age should not mean weaker social rights. People should enjoy all social rights across their life-course. For this to be true, we need an interpretation of the European Pillar of Social Rights rooted in the principle of equality. And that includes making sure our rights do not diminish with age, in line with the promises of the EU’s treaties.
This is the underlying message of AGE’s contribution to the consultation on reinforcing social Europe, which closed last 30 November. This consultation is a key step towards a future Commission Action Plan on implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and its 20 principles. Our contribution is the result of the consultations we have had with our members since the proclamation of the Pillar in 2017. It focuses on two principles: long-term care and old-age income.
Our focus on long-term care and old-age income
On long-term care, our contribution calls for an ambitious EU initiative covering all dimensions of care and support. It should include:
- indicators and targets,
- measures to improve working conditions and support informal carers,
- a push for integrated care and better regulation of the care market.
We call for an interpretation of this principle in intersection with the principle on inclusion of people with disabilities, to make sure the provisions on participation apply equally to people of all ages. Our contribution links with the challenges observed during the current COVID-19 pandemic and calls on decisive action to put an end to long-standing challenges in care for older people.
On old-age income and pensions, we call on a proposal for common standards on adequate minimum income, including minimum pensions. Measures should include creating a framework for universal access to the accrual of pension rights, covering equally women and men and different employment situations. This principle should be linked to the principle on minimum income in view of developing an ambitious post-2020 poverty reduction target and a Framework Directive on minimum income. Furthermore, we highlight that adequate pensions require ensuring labour markets provide quality and sustainable work, including for older workers., This means implementing all other principles of the EU Pillar of Social Rights.
A consistent governance framework is key to make social rights a reality
Our contribution provides some key ideas to make sure the abovementioned and all other Pillar principles can be implemented meaningfully. We highlight the importance of:
- ensuring that the Pillar is integrated in the policy advice provided through the European Semester
- an ambitious follow-up agenda to the Europe 2020 Strategy, implementing all principles of the Pillar and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This agenda should include setting ambitious targets and meaningful indicators that disaggregate by gender and age, including also older age groups.
The way forward
The European Commission is set to put forward an Action Plan early 2021 for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights based on the inputs received via the consultation. This Plan should then be endorsed by EU Member States in the Social Summit in Porto (Portugal) in May 2021 in the framework of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU.
AGE will closely monitor all these developments, so that social rights across the life course become a reality for everyone in the EU.