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The Council of the European Union adopts the Guiding Principles for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations

07/12/2012 The Council of the European Union adopts the Guiding Principles for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations

The Council of the European Union adopted on 6 December the Guiding Principles for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, which should serve as a checklist for national authorities and other stakeholders on what needs to be done to promote active ageing beyond the European Year 2012. Each of the 19 Guiding Principles, jointly agreed by the Social Protection and the Employment Committees, relate to one of the three dimensions of the European Year: employment, social participation and independent living.

These principles, which are annexed to the Council declaration on the European Year 2012 (17468/12), are not prescriptive; it will be for national governments, regions, cities, companies, trade unions, civil society organisations and others to make use of them according to their specific situation and challenges. “The legacy of the European Year 2012 needs to be preserved and further developed at European, national, regional and local level, along the lines outlined in the Guiding Principles for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations”, recommends the Council.

“Active ageing and solidarity between generations are key to the creation of a Europe for all ages – a competitive, prosperous and cooperative Europe of innovation, creativity, social inclusion and cohesion”, remarks the Council.

In its declaration, the Council expresses its strong commitment to promoting active ageing and solidarity between generations, and invites all relevant actors to take full account of this approach in the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy, which calls for inclusive growth and rising labour market participation and reduction of poverty and social exclusion rates. “The active ageing perspective should be mainstreamed across all relevant policy areas”, states the document.

The European Year 2012 has contributed to creating political momentum and take a step forward in tackling the challenges and seizing the various opportunities of ageing populations. However, the Council reminds that the momentum “goes beyond raising public awareness and changing attitudes towards ageing. It is also a call to build on these achievements and translate them into a strong political legacy that delivers concrete results, ensuring social cohesion and prosperity and contributing to the well-being of all generations.”



(1)  Employment

  • Continuing vocational education and training: Offer women and men of all ages access to, and participation in, education, training and skills development allowing them (re-)entry into and to fully participate in the labour market in quality jobs. 
  • Healthy working conditions: Promote working conditions and work environments that maintain workers' health and well-being, thereby ensuring workers’ life-long employability.
  • Age management strategies: Adapt careers and working conditions to the changing needs of workers as they age, thereby avoiding early retirement.
  • Employment services for older workers: Provide counselling, placement, reintegration support to older workers who wish to remain on the labour market.
  • Prevent age discrimination: Ensure equal rights for older workers in the labour market, refraining from using age as a decisive criterion for assessing whether a worker is fit for a certain job or not; prevent negative age-related stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes towards older workers at the work place; highlight the contribution older workers make. 
  • Employment-friendly tax / benefit systems: Review tax and benefit systems to ensure that work pays for older workers, while ensuring an adequate level of benefits. 
  • Transfer of experience: Capitalise on older workers' knowledge and skills through mentoring and age-diverse teams. 
  • Reconciliation of work and care: Adapt working conditions and offer leave arrangements suitable for women and men, allowing them as informal carers to remain in employment or return to the labour market.

(2) Participation in society 

  • Income security: Put in place systems that provide adequate incomes in old age preserving the financial autonomy of older people and enabling them to live in dignity.
  • Social inclusion: Fight social exclusion and isolation of older people by offering them equal opportunities to participate in society through cultural, political and social activities. 
  • Senior volunteering: Create a better environment for volunteer activities of older people and remove existing obstacles so that older people can contribute to society by making use of their competences, skills and experience.
  • Life-long learning: Provide older people with learning opportunities, notably in areas such as information and communication technologies (ICT), self-care and personal finance, empowering them to participate actively in society and to take charge of their own life.
  • Participation in decision making: keep older women and men involved in decision making, particularly in the areas that directly affect them.
  • Support for informal carers: Make professional support and training available to informal carers; ensure respite care and adequate social protection to prevent social exclusion of carers.


(3) Independent living

  • Health promotion and disease prevention: Take measures to maximise healthy life years for women and men and reduce the risk of dependency through the implementation of health promotion and disease prevention. Provide opportunities for physical and mental activity adapted to the capacities of older people. 
  • Adapted housing and services: Adapt housing and provide services that allow older people with health impairments to live with the highest possible degree of autonomy.
  • Accessible and affordable transport: Adapt transport systems to make them accessible, affordable, safe and secure for older people, allowing them to stay autonomous and participate actively in society.
  • Age-friendly environments and goods and services: Adapt local environments as well as goods and services so that they are suitable for people of all ages (design-for-all approach), in particular by making use of new technologies, including eHealth; prevent age discrimination in the access to goods and services.
  • Maximising autonomy in long-term care: For people in need of help/care, ensure that their autonomy and participation are augmented, preserved or restored to the greatest possible extent and that they are treated with dignity and compassion.


The Council Declaration is also available in: BG, CS, DA, DE, EL, ES, ET, FI, FR, HU, IT, LT, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL and SV.  Please visit this webpage to download the document in any of these languages.