When older people are asked about their unmet needs, it is the lack of adequate income that comes in first place. Although Member States remain responsible for the design and implementation of their social protection and social inclusion systems, the role of the EU in this domain has been changing. Since the Lisbon Treaty, EU has also further ‘say’ on pensions and fight against poverty as the national reform programmes that Member States submit every year are evaluated at EU level to monitor progress towards the Europe 2020 objectives, including in the social field.
The proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights also contains a reference to old-age income and pensions, according to which everyone in old age has the right to resources that ensure living in dignity. Such inclusive notion encompasses both people who through employment can build their pension rights, as well as those who are permanently/ temporarily unable to work, or who due to shorter or interrupted working carriers are unable to build adequate pension rights.
AGE objective is therefore to voice the expectations of today’s and future pensioners about their rights to old-age income (coming from both contributory and non-contributory schemes).
AGE defends the right to an adequate income in old age as fundamental and necessary for everyone’s dignity and independence. AGE promotes a holistic approach to reforms of social protection and social inclusion, looking for synergies among all elements which impact adequacy of old-age income and social inclusion, such as well being and personal fullfillment, longer working lives, gender equality, reconciliation between work and private life, social and civic participation, solidarity between generations, access to essential services including health and long-term care, etc.
- Proposal for a European Pillar of Social Rights, with its various rights and principles relevant for older people’s income adequacy, in particular with reference to: social protection, minimum income, old-age income and pensions or gender equality.
- European Semester – a key EU economic policy coordination framework comprising multilateral reviews on the implementation of the Country-Specific Recommendations and examination of the relevant aspects of the National Reform Programmes in the area of social protection and social inclusion
- European Commission's White Paper ‘An Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions’, outlining measures at European level to support and complement national pension reforms
- European Commission's gender equality provisions e.g. directives on equal pay, equal treatment of men and women in employment or in statutory social security schemes
- Europe 2020 Strategy and its ‘flagship initiative’ on the fight against poverty establishing an European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion
- Open Method of Coordination – EU policy framework to develop a comprehensive social inclusion strategy on social protection and social inclusion with direct involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including people experiencing poverty and social exclusion
Objectives and areas of action
This Task Force seeks to raise awareness about older people’s needs in relation to old-age income to live in dignity. Our objective at EU and national level is twofold: 1) promote balanced and diversified pension architecture including adequate and reliable statutory pension (so-called first pillar) and; 2) guarantee for the most vulnerable older persons necessary social safety nets enabling a dignified life in old age. We also look to make decision makers to fully recognise the specificity of poverty risks in old age – from the life-cycle perspective – and address it by tailor-made policy measures.
Our work focuses on the following issues and processes:
- EU role in supporting Member States ensure long-term adequacy, safety and sustainability of pensions and overall social protection systems;
- Impact of the crisis and national reforms on adequacy and safety of national pension schemes and on the overall sustainability of social protection systems;
- Implementation of the rights proposed in the European Pillar of Social Rights through every relevant EU policy frameworks or processes, e.g. the Europe 2020 Strategy, European Semester or the White Paper on Pensions;
- Gender equality across whole life span to guarantee the right to pensions for women and men;
- Campaign for EC directive on minimum income to fulfil older people’s essential needs and preserve decent standards of living and personal dignity.
We also monitor the progress in Member States’ and EU commitment to eradicate poverty as set in Europe 2020 strategy, in particular as regards:
- Solutions to address the impact of the crisis on older people’s lives;
- Poverty and social exclusion risks among the ‘oldest old’;
- Further ‘feminisation’ of poverty in old age;
- Growing difficulties in accessing and affording health services and long-term care;
- Poverty risk among older workers;
- Social isolation and loneliness among older people;
- Rights of most vulnerable older people, such as ethnic minorities;
- Reliable poverty measures combining all existing methods to capture adequately risks of poverty and social exclusion.
EU research projects
AGE was a critical ally and partner of the ROSEnet – Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion: Collaborations in Research and Policy. Invited to join ROSEnet Older Adult Reference Group, AGE members provided researchers with evidence of social realities of older people at the grass roots level. You can view their Roadmap for Combating Social Exclusion here and final policy seminar here.
Philippe Seidel, Policy Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org