MEPs call for inter-generational solidarity to ensure old people are valued and their social inclusion is guaranteed.
In a resolution adopted today, Parliament demands policies that promote a positive perception of old age in society and the social inclusion of older people. They ask the Commission and member states to strengthen their efforts to combat all forms of age-based discrimination, particularly that suffered by women. MEPs stress the importance of fair pensions and ask for concrete measures to tackle the gender pension gap.
The text calls on member states to ensure equal access to health and care services, including at home, as well as long-term care and palliative care, without discrimination. Safeguarding and advancing sexual and reproductive rights should be a priority. The specific needs of people living with illness, including those affected by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, should be taken into account, MEPs say.
Making use of the potential of the silver economy
MEPs are convinced that the so-called silver economy could become an important economic factor in Europe, particularly in rural areas. They demand the European Commission and the Council promote this sector more vigorously, including through tourism and cultural exchanges geared towards older people. Furthermore, they call for the establishment of a Year of Intergenerational Solidarity and Active Ageing.
Bridging the digital divide
Parliament emphasises the need to strengthen the digital skills of older people, so they can benefit from online education and improve their access to healthcare and other digital services. Enhancing the connectivity and accessibility of services in rural and remote areas is crucial to address their depopulation and the social and digital exclusion of older people living there.
“The ageing of the population is one of the most significant challenges facing the EU today. Seniors need our special attention and strategy in EU activities. The EU should help and support the Member States regarding the senior’s policies. My most important goal is to highlight the role of seniors in EU societies, to provide them with appropriate care, to prevent loneliness in old age and to benefit from their vast knowledge and experience. That is why we talk so much about intergenerational solidarity and support for initiatives based on the silver economy and mentoring,” said rapporteur Beate Szydlo (ECR, PL). The report was adopted by 479 votes to 103 and 113 abstentions.
Europe’s ageing population is a consequence of a decrease in both fertility and mortality rates and a higher life expectancy. The working-age population (people between 15 and 64-years-old) is expected to decrease significantly, from 333 million in 2016 to 292 million by 2070. By 2100, people aged 80 and over will account for 14.6 % of the population. This has a severe impact on the social, economic and territorial cohesion of the EU and puts a greater burden on the member states’ healthcare and pension systems. In January 2021, the European Commission launched a public consultation on Ageing to gather views on how to anticipate and respond to the challenges and opportunities brought by this demographic trend.