Older people to become more active in Europe
ARTICLE | JANUARY 18, 2012 – 4:40PM
Europe needs to focus on engaging its older population in the workforce, according to the European Commission.
Speaking in Copenhagen, Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner László Andor said that the EU will seek to promote awareness and opportunities for older people to remain active in society.
His comments come at the opening of 2012 being designated the European Year for Active Aging and Solidarity between Generations, which seeks to improve three areas of life for older people – active ageing in employment, participation in society and independent living.
To better understand ageing in Europe, the commission has published an extensive survey on active ageing to understand citizens’ views and attitudes towards older people. The survey also covers the contribution of older people in the workplace and society, as well as how best to promote the active role of older people in society.
In his opening speech at the European Year launch event in Copenhagen, Andor said that owing to the changing demographic in Europe, where the population has been aging for decades, there is a need to engage the increasing number of older citizens in society.
Through legislation and action programs, the European Year will create more active citizens who participate in the work force, volunteer or provide support for their friends and loved ones, he said.
According to a survey conducted by Eurobarometer, more than 60% of European citizens feel that they should be allowed to work past the retirement age. Andor said that he believes this shows a general support for the goals of the European Year.
Andor said that the survey “shows that people are ready to remain active as they grow older. I am confident that the European Year will act as a catalyst to mobilise citizens, stakeholders and decision-makers to take action to promote active aging and to tackle the challenges of aging in a positive way.”
The commissioner also said that the effect that a more active older population would have on the goals of Europe 2020, a programme that aims to lift 20 million people out of poverty by 2020. Without jobs, he said, many older people remain stuck in poverty.
“Active aging seeks to promote better opportunities for older people on the labour market and allow them to achieve an adequate income in old age,” he said in his speech.
The European Commission will hold two conferences on active ageing in February and June and a forum on the European Year on 14 February. It will also promote programs in schools throughout Europe that seek to create understanding between generations.
Andor said that the Commission will actively work with all member states to create a common policy on active aging that should be implemented by the end of 2012.