Οι παρακάτω ερωταπαντήσεις αποτελούν την πρώτη συμμετοχή της Γενιάς των 700 ευρώ - G700, ως εγγεγραμμένης πλέον ομάδας πίεσης στο Μητρώο Εκπροσώπων Συμφερόντων της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής, σε μία επίσημη ανοιχτή ευρωπαϊκή διαβούλευση.
Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities DG
Social Protection and Integration
Social and Demographic Analysis
EU Consultation in view of a possible designation of 2012 as
European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity
1. Threats and opportunities of ageing in relation to intergenerational solidarity.
EU: Please explain briefly how your organisation perceives the challenges and opportunities in relation to intergenerational solidarity in a context of accelerating demographic ageing.
G700: Greece is aging fast. Not only does the country have one of the lowest fertility rates in the whole of Europe, as well as a high rate of life expectancy. In addition, the old age dependency ratio, ie the population aged 65 years and older divided by the working age population, which in the EU27 currently stands at 25%, in Greece stands at 27.8%, and it is projected to increase to 57,1% in 2060 (Eurostat Population projections 2008).
So what is the problem?
1) Expansion of age related costs. According to a recent survey contacted by the IMF for advanced countries, the fiscal burden of the economic crisis will be about 10% of the ageing related costs in the not so distant future. Such costs relate to a) Pensions: in Greece they are projected to reach 13,2% of GDP in ten years time and 24% at 2050, b) Health Care: in Greece only pharmaceutical spending has risen by 209% since 2000, c) Contributions in kind: services such as the Greek Programme Help at Home aiming at elderly and frail people.
2) Potential economic stagnation or low growth. The OECD has estimated that over the next three decades the age related decline in the labour force could cut growth by a third compared to the previous three decades.
3) Lessened collective innovation and risk-taking potential.
4) Distribution of political power in favour of middle-aged and older voters. Greece has tradinionally been a gerontocracy, even at times of demographic boom. Now, due to population ageing and a series of structural problems, it faces the danger of a transition from a generation of baby boomers to a generation of baby losers.
What is the challenge?
Changing population age structures are compelling governments to create or revamp policies that affect many facets of life. From the way we fund pensions and health care, to the way generational tranfers take place within the family, to how individual choices are being made about consumption and savings.
From a historical perpsective population ageing represents a human success story. Therefore we must neither be alarmist, nor complacent about the phenomenon. One policy challenge is to recast ageing populations as a natural resource, rather than a societal drain, and to exploit opportunities to use these growing reservoirs of human capital. This is exactly where active ageing becomes of crucial importance.
The key issue though is to build institutions that safeguard, and develop policy that promotes intergenerational justice in the public sphere. Population ageing affects the young as much as it affects the old. Therefore, Europe must not just stick to intergeneratonal solidarity, that is generational altruism directed one way, from the young to the old. It must put forward an integenerational justice agenda. 2012 could be rennamed European Year of Intergenerational Justice.
2. Policy measures required to avert such threats or exploit the opportunities and hence promote intergenerational solidarity
EU: What policy measures would your organisation recommend to preserve or promote intergenerational solidarity? What obstacles need to be overcome to implement such policies; in particular, is there a lack of awareness and resistance to change?
1) Raise awareness through public campaigns about the process of population ageing. The great majority of people don't actually see the demographic transition taking place. But it is happening and it is affecting our lives.
2) Inform the public about the challenges of population ageing. "Ageing? So what?" The EU and all nation states need to give a clear answer on what does population ageing mean for the individual citizen (ie savings and consumer behaviour, early life and later life decisions that affect health and well being) as well as for generational relations and transfers within the family, the kinship network, and the public sphere (ie pensions and health).
3) Institutionalise intergenerational justice: a) establish a represantation for future generations at european and national level (ie Future Generation Ombudsman), b) constitutionalise intergenerational justice as a fundamental polity value where possible.
4) Promote pensions and health reform so that the expanding age related costs are met.
5) Develop policies that increase employment in age groups 19-24 and 25 to 34 by making work pay (ie setting up a negative tax for young workers up to the age of 25).
6) Increase employment at ages 55 to 64. Avoid early retirement at all costs. Promote active ageing as a viable alternative.
7) Develop welfare services for the elderly, ie the greek Help at Home programme which helps working families deal with the elderly and frail members of their family, could be extended to cover larger segments of the population.
Resistance to change is great, because a) short termism is dominant in political, social and individual behaviour, b) the status quo, in most cases, is perceived as favorable to people aged 50 and over, so it is easy for such a big social group to reproduce it through voting behaviour in the political arena, c) the young, being struck by low employment and high unemployment (in Greece 25% in the ages 19-24) are less inclined to think ahead. However, the young are great stakeholders in this. And a good strategy to promote change is to exploit the dynamism of a wide section of the young population and their organisations, so as to build a moral, political and economic narrative for change on the basis of intergenerational justice. An alliance between the "Precarious" generation and the baby boom generation is urgently needed.
3. Role of the EU in promoting the right policy responses
EU: Is there a specific role for the EU in relation to intergenerational solidarity? What measures could be taken at the level of the EU in addition to the existing EU policies? In particular, is a European Year an appropriate instrument?
G700: The impact of a European Year on Intergenerational Solidarity, though necessary, is by definition limited. First, as already mentioned above, intergenerational solidarity codifies generational altruism directed one way: from the young to the old. Given the fact that aging affects generational balance at large, the EU must start talking about intergenerational justice. Second, swift european policy response at the level of institutionalising intergenerational justice is mostly needed. Beginning with the establishment of a Future Generations Ombudsman in the premises of the EU Ombudsman, with the aim of promoting intergenerational justice in the EU is the most appropriate course.
4. Topics and activities for a European Year
EU: Given the limited resources available for a European Year, what topics and types of intervention should it focus on? How could it achieve the greatest possible mobilisation of stakeholders at all levels (EU, national, regional, local, company, sector) and thus maximise the impact of the European Year?
1) EU Council Resolution or Commission Paper adopting Interegenerational Justice as a fundamental value of the european polity
2) Establishment of a Future Generations Ombudsman. For this it is crucial to get the environmentalist movement involved because the FGO is at the same time a Green Ombudsman. Intergenerational justice is a social demand raised at the background of demographic transition as well as due to the process of climate change.
3) Media Events, Speeches, production of Documentaries
4) Public discussions and Presentations of the results of the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), and SHARElife.
5) Grants / calls for proposals / targeted at non profit sector bodies and Third Sector Organisations (TSO's) across Europe so as to support them in raising awareness about active ageing and intergenerational justice
5. Your organisation's contribution to a European Year
EU: How could your organisation contribute to the success of a European Year? What activities could it develop?
We are still considering this. Our thoughts so far.
a) A media event like the one organised on April 29 in central Athens for the European Day of Intergenerational Solidarity. (http://www.age-platform.org/EN/spip.php?article686)
b) Activation of our social media potential (facebook, youtube, twitter, blog etc ) for awareness raising within the greek community of internet users.
c) Public discussions and Presentations of the results of SHARE and SHARElife.
d) Activities with other NGOs active in the field of active ageing, like 50plus Hellas in Greece and Age Platform in Europe, as well as joint events with social actors in the field of youth, like the Greek ESYN and its local branches, or the Youth branch of the the Greek General Confederation of Trade Unions (GSEE).