EU Social Partner Framework Agreement and EC proposal on Work-Life Balance: further steps in support of active ageing and intergenerational solidarity
Brussels, 28 April 2017
EU Day of Solidarity between Generations, 29th April
While the 29 of April marks the European Day of Solidarity between Generations, AGE Platform Europe highly welcomes both the European Social Partners agreement on active ageing and intergenerational approach adopted last month and the proposal for a directive to promote work-life balance as part of the EU Pillar of Social Rights launched on 26 April by the European Commission. AGE now calls on the European Parliament and EU Member States to adopt quickly the EU Pillar as a framework that will support greater solidarity between generations and have a positive impact on millions of European citizens.
“Collective cross-generational issues require collective intergenerational responses”, reminded Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, adding that “promoting age diversity at the workplace is a matter of coherence in a European Union that asks its citizens to work longer”.
EP breakfast debate on Active ageing and intergenerational solidarity at work
On 27 April, AGE Platform Europe and the European Parliament Intergroup on Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity together with the EPP and ALDE groups, organised a breakfast debate at the European Parliament to mark the EU Day of Solidarity between Generations with a presentation by the European Social Partners of their framework agreement on active ageing and an intergenerational approach and a discussion on what the EU and civil society can do to support active ageing and intergenerational solidarity.
Developing life-cycle approaches at the workplace which ensure healthy working environments and foster interaction, cooperation and solidarity between the different age groups can help keep older people in employment for longer and transfer knowledge and experience across generations.
In the framework agreement on active ageing, European social partners outline a series of measures that need to be implemented to improve the “ability of workers of all ages to stay in the labour market, healthy and active until the legal retirement age, as well as strengthening a culture of responsibility, commitment, respect and dignity in all workplaces where all workers are valued as important irrespective of age.” These proposals, which are in line with AGE recommendations on access to employment highlighted in our response to the launch of the European Pillar of Social Rights by the European Commission, are tremendously important to build working environments and sustainable employment, contributing to the sustainability of pension systems as institutions of solidarity between generations.
‘This agreement shows the strength of social partners when they come together and agree on a concrete agenda, highlighted Mr Heinz Becker, Member of the European Parliament, introducing the event. ‘It is very important to achieve the principle of healthy ageing, which should begin from a young age on’.
Ensuring active ageing and an intergenerational approach requires a shared commitment on the part of employers, workers and their representatives, but the European Union and national public authorities also have a role to play in providing the necessary supporting framework.
‘For some people, the word ‘social’ is a bad word,’ stated Mr Ivo Vajgl, Member of the European Parliament, ‘however, this world has to be built on solidarity and social responsibility. I am very happy that Commission President Juncker has underlined this from the beginning and has put forward the comprehensive proposals on the Pillar of Social Rights now’.
EU Pillar of Social Rights: Work-life balance and importance of care
Across Europe, about one in five older workers are caring at the same time for a family member in need for care and assistance. At the same time, many more have dropped out of employment because they were unable to reconcile work and care. In this context, the introduction of a care leave with remuneration, as proposed by the Commission in the European Pillar of Social Rights, is a strong proposal to acknowledge and support informal carers in their commitment to solidarity between generations inside families. The development of indicators for the quality, affordability and availability of long-term care is a crucial first step to later develop targets for long-term care services.
The proposal to allow workers the right to five-day paid care leave is more than welcome as it will enable workers to face emergency situations when a close relative suddenly needs their support and long-term care needs to be organised for them. But five days will only be enough if there are enough available long-term care facilities to respond to all emerging care needs. This is why the proposal to make European funds available to set up long-term care services is essential to help member states cope with Europe's demographic ageing. Investment to quality long-term care is essential to support work-life balance and gender equality.
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