European Parliament asks the EU to work internationally for the rights of older people

The European Parliament adopted two resolutions in December 2016 calling the European Union and its member states to strengthen their international commitment on the human rights of older people. One resolution calls to take part in the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing in order to protect the rights of older people. Another invites member states to engage themselves in the Madrid International Action Plan on Ageing (MIPAA), which is under review in 2017. The UN Open-Ended Working Group has a mandate of the UN General Assembly to analyse the international human rights framework regarding older persons, identify possible gaps and deliver proposals to address these gaps, while the MIPAA is a global process to coordinate policy actions in favour of active ageing.

Focus on active ageing

The European Parliament adopted two resolutions ‘on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union in 2015’ and on the Commission’s ‘Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world’ with large majorities in December 2016. It has included paragraphs on ‘elderly people’ in both resolutions. The Parliament calls for active ageing and inter-generational solidarity using a human-rights based approach; to incentivise for increased and active participation of older people in the labour market and to combat social exclusion of older people.

Call to combat age discrimination and isolation

The Parliament notes that discrimination on the grounds of age is highly prevalent, especially when combined with discrimination on other grounds. The Parliament calls on member states to combat older people’s isolation and to integrate them into the community.

International engagement for the rights of older people

The Parliament calls especially on member states and the EU to involve themselves actively in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, a process started in 2010 that identifies protection gaps in the international human right system that are a challenge to the human rights of older people. Recently, the UN Open-Ended Working Group received a mandate to discuss the possibility of an international legal instrument that specifically protects the human rights of older people.

Engagement in the Madrid International Action Plan on Ageing

The Parliament asks member states tu ‘use the current review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing to map the implementation of existing instruments and to identify potential gaps’. The MIPAA is a global plan implemented in Europe by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in an implementation strategy comprising ten commitments on promoting active ageing and solidarity between generations in a large number of areas. The regional implementation strategy is to be revised in 2017, a process taking place every five years since the MIPAA process began in 2002.

AGE has mapped the limited progress of EU member states in the process in a recent publication and calls for a stronger commitment to the MIPAA commitments as well as a more effective follow-up to build a Europe for all ages.

AGE welcomes the reference to the ongoing international process aiming to shape the protection of older people’s rights. Being actively involved in this process is a concreate realisation of EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, with a view on article 25 protecting the right of older persons to live independently and in dignity.


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