Although older citizens usually have a positive attitude toward the European Union, few of them are fully aware of what the EU is doing to translate our shared values into concrete outcomes for EU citizens, what EU competences are and how EU policies impact their daily life. Even fewer know how to engage in a constructive dialogue with the EU institutions to help shape the EU political agenda. The current crisis and language barriers create additional challenges for seniors to become fully involved in EU civil dialogue.
Started in September and in the framework of the European Year 2013, the Active Senior Citizens for Europe project aims at fostering a greater ownership of the EU among older citizens in 8 Member States by giving them the opportunity to learn more about the EU and to interact with EU policy makers in order to achieve a more age-friendly EU. The project will develop training material based on the brochure ‘Active Citizens for Europe: A guide to the EU that provides an overview of EU action relevant for older citizens and will organise series of meetings at EU and national levels to share this knowledge and foster discussions on EU policies and initiatives between civil society organisations coming from different EU countries. It will enable wider groups of seniors to develop a greater sense of ownership to the EU and get involved in the preparation of the upcoming European Parliament elections.
The first European Workshop took place on 15-17 October 2013 in Brussels, just before AGE’s Council of Administration. Participants were given training on EU primary law, EU institutions, policy processes and policies relevant for older people. They were also trained on campaigning, in order to get prepared for the upcoming EU elections, and had the opportunity to visit the EU Parliamentarium. A common session was held on the draft Manifesto for the European Parliament elections prepared by AGE staff, and ASCE project partners had the opportunity to share their ideas related to the campaigning training session. After this European training, ASCE project partners and other interested AGE members will organize national training and information workshops related to the European Union and the preparation of the EU elections. The training materials will be translated in all project partners’ languages and disseminated widely at national level, following the ‘train the trainer’ approach. A second European Workshop is foreseen after the European Parliament elections in June 2014, followed by a second series of national workshops. A final conference will be organized in November/December 2014.