January 2016 kicks off new EU presidency trio

Starting on 1 January 2016, the Netherlands has taken over the presidency of the European Union for a period of 6 months. This also marks the launch of a new presidency trio with Slovakia and Malta, which will in turn hold the presidency following the term of the Netherlands. The three countries have agreed on a joint presidency programme, which will serve as a guideline for the next 18 months and ensure continuity to the policy followed by the Council of the European Union.

The dominant agenda items are migration, security and justice, employment and growth, energy and climate.

The following dossiers on the Council’s agenda are of particular relevance to AGE work:


  • Initiatives on a European research cloud, data ownership, free flow of data and e-government action plan
  • Pending proposals on data protection and web accessibility

Along with the rapidly growing digitalization of our societies, data protection and web accessibility have indeed become key issues to make sure older people are not denied access to essential information and services and that the services provided (e.g. in the area of health or financial services) are safe and reliable. Together with EDF, AGE has published joint recommandations for an inclusive Digital Single Market.


  • Labour mobility package, including the revision of the coordination of social security systems, in particular regarding unemployment benefits and long-term care
  • Integrated employment guidelines
  • Proposal for a Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market.
  • EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 and amendments to related legislation
  • New Skills Agenda for Europe,

Measures to promote active ageing and longer working careers have to go hand in hand with measures to combat age discrimination in employment and improve the flexibility and safety of working conditions, as well as the “employability” of older workers (lifelong learning).
For the moment, long-term care is not covered by the EU directive for coordination of social security systems, meaning that rights acquired in a national social protection system might not be transferrable to another member state, when a worker moves. With the increasing importance of long-term care, it becomes increasingly important to coordinate the portability of benefits and rights to benefits.

Gender equality

  • Upcoming initiatives to address the challenges of work-life balance for working families and support women’s participation in the labour market

Improving work life balance should be part of measures to promote active ageing as this would support workers in charge of dependent relatives, help older workers to remain longer in employment and promote gender equality, namely with regard to employment and pension income (most workers with caring responsibilities are women, which impacts their income in old age if they are forced to step out of the labour market). Read more in our response to an EU consultation in March 2015

Age-friendly environments

  • Urban Agenda

Adapting our urban environments to the ageing population in Europe can help address demographic change in facilitating the inclusion and participation of older people and fostering independent living in old age. Read more on our work to promote age-friendly environments in Europe


  • Ex-post evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme for Research
  • Mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 programme
  • Spreading excellence and widening participation of Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme

Research is an important area where innovative solutions can be developed to promote active and healthy ageing and help sustain the rapid ageing of the European population. AGE is involved in a number of research projects with the objective of engaging older people in the development of solutions that concern them to make sure those solutions effectively meet their needs and expectations.

Social and economic governance

  • Follow up to Five Presidents’ Report
  • Reinforcement of the Social dimension of the EMU
  • Revamped European Semester

The European Semester is a key EU process which coordinates the economic governance of EU countries. Civil society organisations are actively engaged in this process in order to promote the social dimension in the EU recommendations and the national measures developed as part of the Semester. Read more on our work as part of the European Semester

Funded pensions and other financial services

  • Directive on Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provisions
  • European Deposit Insurance Scheme
  • Capital Markets Union Action Plan
  • Review of the Prospectus Directive

The directive on occupational retirement provisions aims to increase transparency and to improve the governance of occupational pension plans in Europe. This issue is of high importance to many older persons for whom occupational pension plans are the primary source of old-age income.
As benefits from contribution-funded social security pensions are lowered across Europe, other private, savings products become also more important to older people and those who want to prepare their old days. The Capital Markets Union has the potential to open a European market for pension products. However, many problems persist for the time being: not all financial products indicate clearly all related costs, and recent research has shown that the return of many products is actually negative if one counts in inflation, administrative costs and taxation. The Prospective Directive has a key role to play to provide reliable information to private investors and to avoid these effects.

Fundamental rights

  • Directive on implementing the principle of Equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation
  • Improved access to goods and services by people with disabilities

Equal treatment regardless of age and ability in all areas of life is a prerequisite to breakdown age prejudices and foster the inclusion and participation of the older population in society. An Equal Treatment Directive, which seeks to combat age discrimination (among other grounds of discrimination) beyond the area of employment, has been proposed by the European Commission but is blocked by the Council. AGE is actively working to unblock this directive, which would be of great importance to advance older people’s rights.

  • EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights

Existing legislative instruments at global level can support our work to promote older people’s human rights in Europe, this why we are also involved in some relevant initiatives within the United Nations and the Council of Europe.


  • Medical devices and In-vitro medical devices package

As part of a package of measures on innovation in health adopted in 2012, the European Commission is working on a fundamental revision of the regulatory framework to improve the safety of medical devices. AGE is closely following the development of that dossier for safe and properly used medical devices can effectively support independent living and wellbeing in old age.

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