Here comes a major occasion to both reshape the European Union to bring it closer to its citizens – of all ages – and silence the ageist misconceptions picturing older adults as not forward looking. As a civil society network, AGE will strive for older citizens to be heard during the coming campaign and will record any commitment by candidates so that the next mandate of the European Parliament is used for sound achievements towards a more inclusive Europe for all.
Under the paving stones, there is a beach
The political turmoil that we have been witnessing in several European countries over the past years are feeding worries regarding what could happen in the next European elections in 23-26 May this year. The rise of populist and nationalist parties, the growing misinformation and the increase of inequalities have exacerbated tensions and, in some worrying cases, have led to severe backlash and threat to human rights from which older persons are not immune.
The elections of a new European Parliament are taking place at this critical moment: we have arrived on a cliff where strong winds could well cause us to fall on the wrong side of the ledge. It is no longer time to witness the situation. Despite the stormy context, we must sketch out a new horizon: only a shared desirable future will help us move forward and dare to jump into the dark waters.
If I bother for Europe, does Europe bother for me?
The last mandate of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2019 was marked by several key policy dossiers in relation to ageing issues.
The adoption of a European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017, the recent provisional agreement on the Work-Life Balance directive in January 2019 and the various resolutions of the European Parliament on the role of quality care services, the importance of life-long learning, the impact of poverty on older women, and the promotion of the rights of older persons at international level have been critical steps forwards to ensure we protect dignity at any age.
Following the adoption of the directive on portability of supplementary pension rights in 2014, the Pan-European Pension Product (PEPP) directive, aiming to give EU citizens a new option for voluntary supplementary pension saving, has been adopted. We were also pleased to see that our long-standing efforts regarding a progressive adaptation of the European Semester are now bearing fruits with the Semester taking stronger account of the social consequences of pension reforms.
Last but not least, the European Parliament has also the potential to play a critical role to make our environments more age-friendly. The adoption of the web accessibility directive in 2016 to ensure public sector’s websites and mobile apps and the political agreement of December 2018 on the European Accessibility Act will certainly be key milestones for shaping more inclusive societies.
“The Europe we want is for all ages”
For the next mandate, AGE will again pursue the aim of an age-friendly European Union and call on candidate members of the European Parliament to ensure that elimination of age discrimination becomes an identified priority on equal foot to other grounds of discrimination. In line with this ambition, AGE Platform Europe Manifesto develops seven ideas that will help preserve the rights of Europeans at any age:
- Enhance older persons’ rights
through combating ageism and age discrimination
- Ensure a life-course perspective on work
and create inclusive labour markets
- Ensure adequate pension and old-age income
for both women and men
- Protect the right to live and age in dignity
through adequate person-centred health and long-term care accessible to all
- Ensure healthy lives
and promote well-being for all ages
- Enable universal access to goods and services
in today’s digitalised society including for older persons
- Empower older citizens to fully participate
in the social and democratic life.
These seven recommendations will be officially presented to Members of the European Parliament on 20th February, in the European Parliament premises in Brussels, Belgium (room: ASP 7F 387) where AGE will hold an inter-party debate. Join us if you can or follow the debate on our Twitter account @AGE_PlatformEU.
Take this chance to sketch a more inclusive and age-friendly future!
The European Union has the potential to grow into a project that will support and respect each of its citizens and communities. The very reason for building the European Union was the need to ensure mutual respect of our differences and to build on these complementarities to face the challenges of our time.
Seeking complementarities is nothing easy; and it certainly cannot be imposed. It is an incremental process built on local peculiarities that only grassroots communities will be able to explain and put into perspective. If we might need facilitators at the European level, what we are going to need, essentially, is a bubbling from below!
As European citizens, we must be at the core of this process and in capacity to monitor and steer it at any stage. Only then we might see the emerge a European Union that enables every citizen to live the life s/he has chosen and find his/her space to contribute to the collective efforts needed to address tomorrow’s challenges.
Elections are the most evident occasion for citizens’ participation. It is not the only one – and AGE will keep echoing the voice of citizens way after the elections – but it is an opportunity we cannot miss! Take this chance to shape the Europe you want!
Need a little hand?
Until the elections, we will regularly share insights of how the campaign is going in our monthly newsletter (subscribe on AGE website home page) and through our European Parliament campaign blog: towardsanagefriendlyep.com
For more information, contact Estelle Huchet