At the launch of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations in Hungary, Commissioner László Andor called on public authorities, social partners and the public to step up efforts to ensure "that older people can continue to contribute to the economy and society, and live independently as long as possible – that is what active ageing is all about", he added.
The number of people aged 60 or over is rising by two million a year and the number of younger people coming onto the labour market is falling. The EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion warned that "a shrinking labour force will not reduce unemployment, but rather hamper future economic growth and our ability to meet the needs of an ageing population".
Addressing these challenges calls for action in many different areas and it is essential to meet the Europe 2020 strategy's targets . "The fact is we need not fear population ageing as long as we stay healthy longer, we create more opportunities for older workers on the labour market and we remain active members of the community", Mr Andor explained.
The cost of pensions and health and long-term care services for older people can be expected to rise significantly over the coming decades. "Adequate, sustainable pensions depend on good jobs and a sound balance between time spent in employment and time spent in retirement. That is one of the key messages in the White Paper on Pensions that the Commission presented last month", the Commissioner said.
A recent Eurobarometer survey shows many Europeans would stay in the labour market even beyond their pension age if the conditions are right.
The EU can also play a role in supporting the Member States in their efforts. The European Social Fund will spend a billion euros directly on measures to promote active ageing and longer working life over the 2007-2013 programming period. In addition, older workers can also benefit under active labour market measures that account for just over 15% of the fund’s total resources of €76 billion over that seven-year period.
The Commissioner took the opportunity to call on organisations to contribute to the European Year's success and submit online their relevant initiatives and commitments.