Maintaining the vitality of older people, enhancing their involvement in society and removing barriers between generations should be the main aims of European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations in 2012, believes the EP Employment Committee.
The events and measures being launched in 2012 should raise awareness, stimulate debate and have a real impact on lifestyles, say MEPs. These points are set out in a draft report on a Commission proposal for a European Year for Active Ageing (2012) adopted by the Employment Committee on Wednesday.
Aims and activities of the European Year
The European Year would seek to foster a sustainable active ageing culture. While strongly backing the basic idea of such a year, the committee also wants it to embrace the notion of intergenerational solidarity, by changing the title to European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
National, regional and local authorities as well as social partners, businesses and civil society should promote "active ageing" and do more to boost the potential of the rapidly growing population in their late 50s and above, say MEPs. Conferences and events, information campaigns and exchange of information and best practice would be among the tools used.
Active ageing - better quality of life
MEPs believe more should be done to enable elderly people to realise their potential for wellbeing and participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need it. "Active ageing" means better education and lifelong learning, age-friendly working conditions, and supporting the role of older people in family life and society as a whole.
The committe would also like the EU, its Member States and all stakeholders to use the European Year as a springboard for developing new solutions and policies. Age management strategies, family-friendly policies and activities highlighting the importance of preventive health and healthy lifestyles should be among the priorities, say MEPs.
The Employment Committee's report, drafted by Martin Kastler (EPP, DE), was adopted under the co-decision procedure, first reading, by 44 votes to 0, with no abstentions.
Europeans today are leading longer and healthier lives than ever before, but society faces a number of challenges as a result. Demographic projections by Eurostat indicate a decline of about 6.8% (20.8 million) in the number of people of working age by 2030. Two people of working age (15-64) will thus be needed to support one retired person (over 65), compared to a ratio of four to one today.
This may increase pressure on public budgets and pension systems, as well as on social and care provision for older people. In addition, old age is often associated with illness and dependence, and older people can feel excluded from employment as well as from family and society.
Rapporteur: Martin Kastler (EPP, DE)
In the chair: Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR)