18.01.2012 POLICY

Europe to be age-friendly by 2020?

On the eve of the launch of the European Year on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, the EY2012 Coalition presents its joint Manifesto and Road Map and urges all relevant actors at local, national and European level to seize the momentum of the European Year 2012 to commit to creating an age-friendly European Union that will allow everyone to live, learn, work and age with dignity.

"The EY2012 for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations is starting in a very difficult economic context,"states Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General of AGE Platform Europe. "This unprecedented crisis makes it more urgent than ever to fundamentally review the way our society functions and to do our utmost to empower everyone, young and old, to contribute actively in the labour market and in their communities and to live independently for as long as possible".

Supporting Ms Parent´s statement, the results of the recent Eurobarometer survey on Active Ageing reveal that most EU citizens acknowledge the important role played by people aged 55+ in key areas of society, recognizing that many of them wish to remain active as they age.

Austerity measures hit the most vulnerable in our society and many women above 50 suffer a double form of discrimination, in particular in access to employment, lifelong learning and equality of income and pensions. "Although they represent a fast growing percentage of the population, many older women are likely to be severely affected by austerity measures and pension reforms due to their career breaks linked to their family and caring responsibilities", stressed Louise Richardson, AGE Vice-President. The EY2012 Coalition (*) therefore urges decision-makers to tackle the gender dimension of demographic ageing, which is often underestimated.

The rise in life expectancy can offer many opportunities and can help address today´s societal challenges. However this is only true if we create the appropriate environment to support active and healthy ageing and greater solidarity and cooperation between generations.

"Creating an Age-Friendly European Union means fostering solidarity between generations and enabling the active participation and involvement of all age groups in society while providing them with adequate support and protection. This cannot be achieved through isolated initiatives. It requires a wide commitment and common vision", says Marjan Sedmak, AGE President, speaking on behalf of the EY2012 Coalition, ahead of the European Year´s official launch on January 18-19 in Copenhagen.

In order to achieve their common objective of creating an age-friendly European Union by 2020, the Coalition has issued a Manifesto for an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020 which proposes a number of recommendations to the EU policy makers and to stakeholders at national and local level. A Stakeholders´ Coalition Roadmap detailing the Coalition´s commitments and action proposals to meet the goals of the EY2012 will also be presented at the EY2012 launch conference on January 18-19.

The EY2012 Coalition calls for the adoption of a European Strategy on Active Ageing and an age-friendly European Union, which includes:

  • an inclusive labour market, that ensures the participation in paid work of younger and older people, supports the intergenerational knowledge transfer and enables workers to both maintain their health and reconcile their work and private lives;
  • accessible goods and services that are adapted to the needs of all;
  • setting up a gender sensitive EU Age-Friendly Environment Network;
  • creating a European Covenant of Mayors on Active and Healthy Ageing or Demographic Change;
  • adopting an EU programme on Seniors for innovation in support of active and healthy ageing.