To future EU Commissioners: Don’t leave older persons behind!

Brussels, 1st October 2014

Communiqué de presse en français

24th International Day of Older Persons

To future EU Commissioners:
Don’t leave older persons behind!

At a time when the new European Commission is taking shape, the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons on 1st October reminds us that significant challenges remain, namely in terms of inclusiveness and sustainability of our societies. Although the EU seems to be aware of those challenges, AGE Platform Europe points out a lack of clarity in the way demographic issues and age discrimination will be addressed by the upcoming Juncker’s team.

The 60+ population is expected to reach 20 per cent of the global population by 2030, whereas in the EU the 50-plussers already represent more than 30% of the population and will increase significantly by 2060 due to an estimated 15% rise in life expectancy. Those projections show how vital it is for our societies to adapt in order to avoid excluding an increasingly large part of their population. Under the title ‘Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All’, the UN International Day of Older Persons makes a clear link between inclusiveness and sustainability of our societies and is fully in line with AGE Platform Europe’s recommendations addressed to future European Commissioners.

The need to adapt to the demographic ageing is clearly mentioned in the mission letter sent by European Commission’s President Juncker to the designated Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, who will be responsible for ensuring that the impact of ageing is “appropriately taken into account in all Commission proposals and activities”. It remains unclear, however, if Mrs Thyssen will have the power to address the multi-sectorial issues related to ageing and demographic change, which go far beyond employment and pension issues. During today’s hearings, Mrs Thyssen and the designated Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Mrs Jourova should also clearly define how their DGs will cooperate on non-discrimination issues , in particular to combat age discrimination in all areas of life, a key concern to ensure social inclusiveness and participation of all citizens, without which no sustainable growth is possible.

To ensure proper coordination between all DGs who are responsible for dossiers affected by demographic change and population ageing, AGE calls for the adoption of an EU Strategy on Demographic Change. Such Strategy would coordinate action undertaken under various DGs to support social protection reform at national level, boost the silver economy through digital innovation, and support scale up by local and regional actors through a Covenant on Demographic Change.

As Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe, highlights, “only in making our societies inclusive of all age groups will we be able to address demographic ageing in a fair and sustainable way and promote a genuine European Union for all”.

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