So in the EU, 2012 is dedicated to Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
Convinced of the importance of the issue, COFACE has joined the coalition of NGOs that are going to follow the developments of the year and will have their own input in the activities organized around the theme at European and especially at Member State level.
Indeed, families and their organisations are very clear stakeholders in this field, as they are directly concerned by any changes in retirement age, pension levels, end of career time arrangements, active involvement in civil society associations… In this perspective, EY2012 is a fitting follow-up to EY2011 on volunteering.
As in our societies, people tend to live longer and in good health – a very positive development indeed – it is quite logical that the EU highlights all the advantages of ‘active ageing’ (e.g. remaining active on the labour market is good for the pension schemes), not forgetting either that older citizens represent an attractive population for a series of markets (travel, culture, leisure, sports, education, life-long learning…), at least when considering those who have the financial means to purchase these services…
This is where the EU shows the limits of its approach: there seems to be less interest for those older citizens who do not have the resources to invest in leisure activities etc, and are no longer on the labour market - sometimes have been out of it for many years.
How does the EU involve its older citizens who do not have the opportunity of travelling, playing golf, buying season tickets for concerts, following courses for senior citizens…? Are we not once again catering for the ‘have’s’ and neglecting the ‘have-not’s’? What is the EU doing to reduce the gap between them? Such a Year should be the occasion for a comprehensive approach to the issue.
What’s more, there seems to be somewhat less importance granted to the ‘solidarity between generations’ aspect of the Year. Here also families and their organisations are at the forefront of the issue: by definition, families are at the heart of solidarity between generations.
COFACE therefore regrets the unbalance between the two fields of the EY2012 especially as expressed by the speeches at the recent launching conference in Copenhagen, where most of them were insisting on prolonging life at work…
We wish to insist that more effort and encouragement be spent in the EU and especially in the Member States to take this Year’s opportunity to favour all sorts of projects that bring generations together (grandparents and children, older and younger citizens in a variety of surroundings…). Family organisations around Europe are prepared to present their own initiatives and experiences. Hopefully, there will be strong recognition and support of such activities.
William Lay, Director
Active ageing for family carers
To mark the start of the 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity of Generations, the Commission presented a new Eurobarometer survey showing that 71% of Europeans are aware that Europe's population is getting older, but only 42% are concerned about this development.
In terms of having a job, only one in three Europeans agrees with the idea that the official retirement age will have to be increased by 2030, even though this is now a clear policy priority in many Member States. According to the survey, one third of Europeans say that they would like to continue working after they reach retirement age, and the idea of combining a part-time job and a partial pension is more appealing than full retirement to almost two thirds of Europeans…
But Active Ageing is not just about employment. Around one quarter of Europeans say they are engaged in voluntary work. In countries where there is less of a volunteering tradition, a higher proportion of people say that they have helped or provided support to other people outside their own household. 36% of Europeans over the age of 55 have provided such support. 15% of respondents over 55 take care of an older family member and 42% have done so in the past... Read more
To mark the start of the Year, COFACE has released a factsheet on Active ageing for Family carers.
Opening Conference for the European Year 2012
COFACE took part in the opening conference of the European Year 2012 in Copenhagen on 18-19 January. As the pressuring ageing population presents a major challenge to our society, the European Year aims to encourage policy makers and civil society organisations to set commitments and take concrete actions in the fields of employment, participation in the society and independent living of older people.
In his opening remarks László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion highlighted a newly commissioned Eurobarometer survey on ageing and called for a comprehensive stakeholder co-operation to make active ageing a fact. Moreover, Commissioner Andor underscored that a lot of work can be also done to help older people in their role as carers. This statement firmly coincides with COFACE’s position on Active ageing for family carers, a recently developed policy document by COFACE’s Disability and Dependency Working Group.
The conference provided several remarkable presentations on ageing, but we regret that the event concentrated more on employment and labour market questions, thus lacking the concept of solidarity between generations, poverty.
The European Year starts in a challenging social, economic and political context where NGOs often face growing needs and lacking financial support. To appropriately address age discrimination problems or demographic change, the involvement of civil society organisations has became extremely important. Therefore, COFACE welcomes the commitment of the Cyprus Presidency to focus on the participation of local NGOs and CSOs in social policies towards the implementation of the EU2020 strategy, as one of the priorities of the Cypriot Presidency during the 2nd half of 2012.
See also: www.coface-eu.org/en/News/European-Year-2012
New civil society Alliance for 2013: European Year of Citizens
Following on to the Commission’s proposal to designate 2013 as European Year of Citizens, the European civil society organisations and networks members of the Liaison Group have decided to create a civil society Alliance in order to lobby on MEPs to explicitly broaden the scope of the EY2013 to all aspects of citizenship and raise its budget.
COFACE is member of this Alliance. Aiming at mobilising and coordinating civil society engagement in the activities which will be scheduled during the European Year of Citizens 2013, this Alliance is open to all civil society organisations sharing the same willingness to put citizens at the heart of the European building process and to promote a collective engagement for a common project and the emergence of a European public space.
The European Citizens' Initiative
The European Citizens' Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least one quarter of the EU Member States to invite the European Commission to bring forward proposals for legal acts in areas where the Commission has the power to do so. The organisers of a citizens' initiative, a citizens' committee composed of at least 7 EU citizens who are resident in at least 7 different Member States, will have 1 year to collect the necessary statements of support. The number of statements of support has to be certified by the competent authorities in the Member States. The Commission will then have 3 months to examine the initiative and decide how to act on it.
In accordance with the Regulation, it will only be possible to launch the first European Citizens' Initiatives from 1 April 2012.
Online safety for children
The ICT Coalition for a Safer Internet for Children and Young People announced on 19 January its guiding principles for the development of products and services to actively enhance the safety of children and young people online.
25 companies from across the information and communications technology sector are signatories to the principles, which aim to ensure that children and young people obtain the greatest benefit from new technologies, while avoiding the challenges and risks which are of concern to people worldwide.
The principles focus on the key areas of: content, parental controls, dealing with abuse/misuse, child sexual abuse content or illegal contact, privacy & control and education & awareness.
These principles differ from other ongoing initiatives because they provide a long term roadmap for safer development and cover all aspects of accessing and using the internet and its services. More details about the ICT Principles and the actions to be taken by Signatories
Priorities of the Danish Presidency 2012
Denmark holds its seventh Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the beginning of 2012. This Trio Presidency consists of Poland, Denmark and Cyprus. The six-month Presidency has to concentrate on several pressing priorities such as jobs and economic growth, budget talks and the current global financial crisis. Though, many Member States’ main concern lies on the effective management of credit crunch and downgrades, COFACE calls upon the Danish Presidency to devote adequate importance on tackling the social impact of the financial crisis.
“The Danish Presidency will invite Member States to discussions on how to respond to the demographic challenges, including how the labour supply may be strengthened by more young people and women entering the labour market, changed family patterns, better reconciliation of work and family life, lifelong learning, breaking the intergenerational inheritance of disadvantage, as well as a greater employment rate for persons who are not in possession of full capacity for work”.
Work Programme of the Danish Presidency ‘Europe at Work'
Past and forthcoming meetings
25/01/12: Seminar Work-Life Balance and reform of the welfare state
The European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and the Lombardy Region (Italy) organised a seminar in the framework of the European Alliance for Families Reconciliation of professional, private and family life. During the event, the Regional Minister of the Lombardy region presented the road map for reconciliation of work-family life 2012-2013.
COFACE was called to intervene in the stakeholders’ round table and in particular to bring inputs from its members on how the effect of the crisis on families and how reconciliation policies can support coping with it.
COFACE presented the situation as described by first hand information by members, recalling in particular that the crisis has brought to a general behavioural change in families, especially towards expenditures and savings and energy consumption. Finally, she recalled the necessity of reconciliation policies to prevent and fight poverty and social exclusion and, on the contrary, for fostering social cohesion. More
24/01/12: Seminar European Convention on Home Care Services
On 24 January the European Think Tank “Pour la Solidarité”, in collaboration with Sodexo, organised the European Convention on Home Care Services. The event, organised within the framework of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012, was conceived as a day of exchanges and discussions focusing on home care services, in particular focussing on the ageing population and the territorial governance.
COFACE was called to contribute to the discussion in one of the working groups dedicated to active ageing and care. It was stressed the need of giving recognition and support to family carers, in particular for the ageing ones, remembering the importance of coordinating with professional services and the need for forward planning.
9-10/11/11: Seminar on European Contract Law
The EU’s Consumer Rights Directive came into force on 12 December 2011. Member states have until 13 December 2013 to transpose it into their national law. Meanwhile, the Commission had started discussions going on moves towards a common law of contract, resulting in a proposal from the Commission that will be on the Council’s agenda under the Danish Presidency.
Both initiatives are designed to unlock the growth potential of the internal market by making cross-border trade between EU Member States easier. But there are still many questions about the level of protection for consumers and the benefits to business.
COFACE attended a conference on "European contract law" in Warsaw on 9 and 10 November at which the European Commission gave a progress update in the form of a proposal for a European regulation on a Common European Sales Law. COFACE believes this instrument needs to be looked at against other existing and nascent European consumer law provisions. This future law on contracts of sale would be a "special optional scheme" that firms could opt to use for sales of goods or services across borders or even in-country.
List of forthcoming events
7/02/12: Working Group Exchange of information and experiences: mutual learning and capacity building, Brussels
19/04/12: Seminar on e-Health, Brussels
20/04/12: Working Group Consumer Protection, Services, Public Health and Sustainable development policies, Brussels