EESC opinion: Taking into account the needs of older people

Key points:

In this opinion, requested by the Commission as a contribution to its new communication on the subject, the Committee:

  • Reminds authorities that, in order for older people to continue to participate in society and to live a decent life in older age, it is essential that they have financial security and access to opportunities for meaningful activities, including lifelong learning, employment and voluntary work and the use of new technologies. Draws their attention to the need for services such as transport, energy, housing and health care to be available, affordable and accessible.
  • Calls specifically for following measures to be taken by the Member States, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee:
    • regular drafting of national and regional reports on the situation of older citizens;
    • compiling and disseminating examples of best practice in their benefit;
    • promoting a new image of old age, which acknowledges the lifelong achievements of older people (including those of migrants) and respects old age in politics, business and society;
    • organising media campaigns on active ageing.
  • And recommends the EU Council presidencies, the European Parliament and the European Commission:
    • to establish an additional Expert Group on Old Age within the framework of the European Commission's expert group on demographic issues;
    • to create a European Alliance for an active life in old age along the lines of the European Alliance for Families, which among other things should organise workshops and conferences;
    • to launch a European Centre for Age Research, to process, collate and exchange information, to ascertain a need for more extensive research and to promote research in this area;
    • to include an interdisciplinary focus on older people with its own budget in the 8th research framework programme;
    • to create of a European internet portal providing the public with information from all directorates-general on initiatives relating to old age, and along its lines, to set up local, regional and national internet portals;
    • to support a Demography Fund as part of the Structural Funds to provide financial compensation for regions which are taking active steps to deal with demographic change (e.g. active family policy);
    • to include new priorities in the Lifelong Learning Programme to train support workers to assist with the transition between various stages of life.