The pandemic proved it: solidarity isn’t a stance; it’s a practice. On 29 April – European Day of Solidarity Between Generations, AGE asked policy makers and civil society organisations to explain why solidarity should be at the core of our policies.
“From old to young, and young to old” says the European Commission
Dubravka Šuica, Vice President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography:
“Solidarity and responsibility between generations make up the fabric that holds us together as societies and communities. It makes us stronger and more resilient, especially during trying times.
Throughout our life journey we have rights and responsibilities. We should be able to count on the support of others as much as they rely on us – no matter our age. This is at the heart of intergenerational solidarity.
Solidarity between generations must not be a grand word. It is an everyday task for each one of us – through teaching and learning, caring and being cared for, inviting, and participating. And it goes from old to young and young to old.”
“Not everyone has the same needs” say MEPs, “but we all deserve dignity”
MEP Dietmar Köster, S&D Group, Germany:
“In these dangerous and insecure time, we need more solidarity between generations than ever. The Neoliberals are saying that elderly people are living on the backs of the younger. This narrative leads directly to a new generation conflict. The real problem is the increasing social inequality. This is we have to fight against in solidarity with all generations. And this fight includes investments for the social and ecological future and for a strong public health system. This is in the interests of all generations.”
MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, EPP Group, Finland:
“Europe is becoming more and more age diverse, and instead of fearing it, it is something to celebrate! One of the numerous advantages of age diversity is intergenerational learning, for example in the workplace: an older colleague with more experience can teach a lot to a younger one.
We can gain silent, comparative knowledge from generations before us who have archives of knowledge that come from years and years of experience. We need diversity also when it comes to age, because similarity easily produces identical type of thinking and knowledge.
Intergenerational learning leads to intergenerational co-creation – not everything in society need to work the same way for everyone. By listening to each other, we can find new ways of organizing our societies. We see things differently, and that is a richness. Happy European Day of Solidarity between Generations!”
MEP Milan Brglez, S&D Group, Slovenia:
“Political institutions and decision makers should draw inspiration from citizens’ acts of solidarity and commit themselves to translate the EU values into concrete steps and determined action. It is time to put equality into practice. (…)
We are currently working on the own initiative report of the Committee on employment and social affairs related to demographic challenges and population ageing; as a shadow rapporteur of the S&D, I am aware of the responsibility that the European Parliament has in order to propose a progressive and ambitious text that will help to ensure equality among people and among generations is put into practice.
We should take advantage of the recently published Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and immediately proceed with its realisation to prove our citizens that Europe is a place for equality life of all people at every age. Time for equality is now!”
MEP Karlo Ressler, EPP Group, Croatia:
“Solidarity between Generations is an essential element of European culture and of humanity itself. Children and elderly have been particularly hit by the pandemic and they need special attention and care. Regardless of our age, we can all learn from each other, contribute to society and we all deserve dignity and respect.”
MEP Lukas Mandl, EPP Group, Austria:
“We must not forget that we stand on the shoulders of our forebears. And we face a huge responsibility for the generations ahead. That’s true for politics as well as for personal life. With this picture of my father and me on Piazza Navona in Rome I wish all of you a good European day of solidarity between generations. The pandemic shows us the importance of this kind of solidarity in an unprecedented way.”
“We must combat inequalities at all stages of life” say youth and older people’s organisations
Panagiotis Chatzimichail, Board Member of the European Youth Forum:
“Pinning generations against one another has been the ongoing theme from the very outbreak of covid-19. Yet, scapegoating won’t lead anywhere. Solidarity and cooperation are the only solution: civil society is already leading the way, it’s time for institutions to follow suit. Whether it’s jobs, skills, pensions, or housing, policies need a sound intergenerational contract.
Any follow up to the Green Paper on Ageing must take into account all generations: each life stage has its struggles, but without a lifecourse and rights-based approach to ageing, we’ll continue to carry the inequalities we face in our lifetime with us.”
Maciej Kucharczyk, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe:
“Since our creation in 2001, AGE has always advocated for solidarity between generations. We have always insisted on combatting inequalities at all stages of life in order to ensure the fulfilment and dignity of older people. Equality is the backbone to solidarity and healthy ageing. The EU must live by it!”
A year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe, AGE urges the European Commission to elaborate an ‘Age Equality Strategy’. On the European Day of Solidarity Between Generations, we stress that such a strategy would provide a fair frame for all generations to be fully part of the future of Europe.