Annual Growth Survey 2016: Will the European Semester help to enhance independent and dignified ageing?

PRESS RELEASE
Brussels, 11th December 2015

PDF version available here

Launch of Annual Growth Survey 2016

The 2016 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) proposes to strengthen the recovery and foster convergence among EU member states by 're-launching investment, pursuing structural reforms and responsible fiscal policies'. For AGE Platform Europe members, this objective will not be enough to reach the 'social triple A', promised by President Jean-Claude Juncker, unless the living conditions of different age and population groups are moved higher up in the policy agenda.

"We can transform demographic change into an opportunity to build a more inclusive society", said Marjan Sedmak, President of AGE Platform Europe, "but this requires substantial investments in social and public infrastructures on which people, including ageing population can rely". Until now, the contrary has happened with health and long-term care services being reduced or privatised in order to comply with budgetary constraints imposed in the framework of the European Semester. Over the last few years, the Healthy Life Years indicator has decreased – contrary to the objective of European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing to increase it by 2 years by 2020. This may be partially due to the lack of social considerations in pursuing structural reforms and fiscal policies.

AGE Platform Europe backs the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) priorities on healthcare, childcare and long-term care, seen as crucial to allow more women to reconcile family life with work. Similarly, we support the focus on life-long learning, a priority that should help workers keep their job after the age of 50 and increase the chances of older job-seekers to find employment. However, we regret that the AGS do not address more explicitly the persisting age discrimination in employment nor come with concrete proposals to fight against poverty in old age. Poverty risk is harsh reality for an increasing number of older persons, in particular older women, very old persons, older migrants and persons who acquired disabilities during their pension age. The ongoing pension reforms will only erode further their pension benefits while cuts in health and long-term care provision, subsidized transport etc. increase the level of income one needs to cover all basic needs in old age, undermining the capacity of pension systems to reduce inequalities and ensure a dignified life for all.

"The next European Semester should link national reforms of social protection systems with the Juncker's Investment Plan to improve the living conditions and social infrastructure indispensable for a dignified and independent ageing", concluded Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General of AGE Platform Europe.

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Friday 11 December 2015
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