a) Up to 1990
The situation of older people was first addressed specifically in
a number of Resolutions by the European Parliament during the 1980s, beginning
with its Resolution of 18 February 1982 on the situation and problems of
older people in the European Community.
The Charter on the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, adopted by
11 Member States in 1989, refers, in paragraphs 24 and 25, to older and retired
people and brings this group within its ambit.
In addition, a number of established legal instruments and policy
initiatives, while not specifically aimed at older people, have nevertheless
been of relatively greater concern to the older generation. These include
initiatives in the fields of disability, such as the HELIOS programme, European
anti-poverty programmes and equal treatment between women and men in the
matter of social security.
b) Decisions 1990-1992
The Commission´s Communication on the Elderly" of 24 April 1990
(COM (90) 80 final) set out a basis for action at Community level in the
interest of older people, while recognizing the clear application of the
principle of subsidiarity in this field.
The two Council Decisions, on Community action for older people
(91/49/EEC; OJ L 28 of 2.2.91, p.29) and on the 1993 European Year (92/440/EEC;
OJ L 245 of 26.8.92, p.43), respectively, confirmed the Community´s
role as an important but subsidiarity actor in the process underway in all
Member States to meet the long-term challenges of an ageing population.
By its Decision of 17 October 1991 (91/544/EEC; OJ L 286 of 26.10.91,
p.42), the Commission established a Liaison Group to promote dialogue with
organizations representing older people at European leve and, thus, to strenghten
the voice of the older citizen at this level.
c) Solidarity between Generations
The two Council Decisions also established the promotion of solidarity
between generations as a central element in the Community´s approach
to meeting the challenge of an ageing population. The principle of
inter-generational solidarity as the essential basis for policy development
by Member States was confirmed in the Declaration of Principles of the Council
of the European Union and the Ministers for Social Affairs, meeting within
the Council of 6 December 1993 to mark the end of the European Year of Older
People and Solidarity between Generations (93/C 343/01; OJ C 343 of 21.12.93,
d) The European Year
1993, European Year of Older People and Solidarity between Generations,
with its thousands of activitiees ranging form the totally European to the
very local, was an exercice in building and managing partnerships across
different levels, cultures, disciplines and generations. The objectives of
the European Year were
to highlight the Community´s social dimension; to raise
to raise the awareness of societies about ageing issues
to promote debate
to promote intergenerational solidarity
to involve older people in the process of Community integration.
The measures taken by the Commission were partly stimulation measures
with no financial implications, and partly measures either fully financed
or co-funded by the Commission. The latter covered both Pan European and
The effort has been declared a success which is, in fact, largely
due to the massive contribution of the non-governmental sector in bringing
the issues to the attention of those most directly concerned.
e) White Paper on Social Policy
The White Paper "European Social Policy - A Way Forward for the Union",
adopted in July 1994, announced that the Commission would propose "a Decision
for further Union-wide actions to help meet the challenges of an ageing
population covering, in particular, the role and contribution of the active