Credit: Yogendra Singh on Unsplash
Ahead of the meeting of the EU Council of Ministers in the field of social affairs (the EPSCO Council) that took place last 8 December, AGE had been calling on the ministers to support a proposal by the Czech minister for social affairs, which was not on the official agenda of the meeting: adopting a European harmonised number for senior helplines, under the number of 116 100. Czech Minister Jurecka had proposed this number to his peers in a letter in September based on the European Commission Decision 2007/116, for ‘harmonised services of social value’.
Throughout the EU, AGE members and other organisations are running senior helplines, which allow older persons to seek free-of charge advice over the telephone. Advice can range from practical issues such as knowing about how to access public services digitally to psychological support or even counselling in the case of abuse and neglect. Often run by not-for profit organisations rather than governments, these numbers provide an important service to older citizens, who might be more likely to reach out for help by phone rather than online. The ‘success’ of these numbers during the pandemic clearly exemplify their importance.
The proposal, supported by Elpida, AGE member in Czechia, would mean that the number 116 100 is reserved for such helpline services and that governments or telephone regulators can link this number to existing services. This does however not imply that all EU countries need to establish such a helpline, but it will be accessible under the same number in all EU countries proposing this.
AGE members had sent letters of support to their governments ahead of the Council to support the establishment of such a European number. However, as of today, it seems the question has not been raised by the Czech Presidency during the meeting; therefore, AGE will pursue this campaign, given that at least 10 of the 27 Member States already support the proposal.
For more information, you can contact our colleague Philippe Seidel, email@example.com