Bringing together local and regional authorities across the EU to strengthen intergenerational solidarity.
AGE Platform Europe takes the opportunity of the European Day of Solidarity between Generations to call the European Commission to support an European Covenant on Demographic Change which would help promote age-friendly environments in European regions and communities and to call on national governments to better recognise and support the vital contribution of grandparents to social and economic wellbeing in Europe.
According to the Eurostat 2012, in the European Union, the percentage of the population who are aged 65 years or over is expected to increase from 17.4 % in 2010 to 29.5 % by 2060.
As mentioned in a recent article of John Martin, Director, and Edward Whitehouse, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, the issue of intergenerational solidarity will become a major policy challenge in the years ahead, and not just in OECD countries.
Population ageing “could prove a particular stress point for relations between generations. There are currently four people of working age for every one of pension age on average in OECD countries. This ratio will fall to three-to-one by the late 2030s and two-to-one by 2050. Future generations may be less willing and able to shoulder a continually growing tax burden to support a growing share of inactive people.
Informal care for older people was easier to arrange when it could be shared between a number of children or in-laws. Families are not only smaller, but also more complex nowadays: a result of divorce, remarriage and lone parenthood. These developments weaken the bonds between family members. More women–who traditionally took on most of the care burden–are in paid work and facing a potential conflict between their career and caring” wrote the OECD in the article.
Convinced that greater solidarity between generations can help us take up current societal challenges, AGE addresses the intergenerational solidarity as a cross-cutting issue mainstreamed throughout its advocacy work, projects and campaigns. It was at AGE initiative that the 29th of April has become the European Day of Solidarity between Generations, a day to highlight the key role of intergenerational solidarity in supporting active ageing and to give more visibility to the large number of relevant initiatives run all over Europe.
To mark the European Day 2013 and join the many activities organised across the EU on that occasion, Eurochild and AGE organised a round table debate on “Grandparents as carers - Trends and support services in Europe” in the European Parliament on 24 April 2013.
This event, hosted by the MEP Heinz K. Becker, launched the results of a study carried out by Eurochild which gives an overview of family policies with relevance to grandparents across EU countries and identifies key policies that recognise grandparent care and support, and which strengthen the extended families from children’s perspective.
The debates highlighted the following recommendations:
- Member States should do more to recognise and support the vital contribution of grandparents to social and economic wellbeing in Europe;
- Parental leave provisions and flexible working conditions should be extended to grandparents;
- Fiscal policies should encourage financial transfers from old to young;
- Intergenerational learning good practices should be rolled out across the EU;
- Grandparents’ access to a child should be legally protected after family breakdown;
- Grandparents kinship carers should receive greater support.
Together with Eurochild and AGE, a growing group of stakeholders has been celebrating the European Day of Solidarity between Generations. This group is supporting in particular AGE campaign for the creation of an EU Age-Friendly Environment Network and the launch of a European Covenant on Demographic Change to gather and support local and regional public authorities committed to fostering age-friendly environments and intergenerational solidarity in their communities.
“To help Europe overcome its demographic challenge, we promote an age-friendly European Union, where women and men of all ages are empowered to participate fully in society and are valued for the contribution they make” said Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe.
AGE campaign and the challenges of age-friendly environments are presented in AGE’s new publication ‘Toward an age-friendly European Union by 2020’ which also provides a series of concrete initiatives carried at different levels.