On 12th October 2020, the EU Council
adopted conclusions on "Human
rights, participation and well-being of older people in the age of
The conclusions shed a light on several
aspects of the living situation of older people, especially against the
background of the COVID-19 pandemic: the restrictions in daily life caused by
the pandemic were often more acutely felt by older people than by younger
ones, for example through bans on visiting old people's homes or difficult
access to medical care.
The Council refers to the legal frameworks
already in place to guarantee the rights of older people. For example, the European
Pillar of Social Rights calls for the compliance and implementation of
various principles for better living conditions for all people, regardless of
Known opportunities and obstacles of digitalisation
The conclusions state that digitalisation not
only brings many opportunities but also hurdles in the implementation of social
rights. For example, innovations in robotics could lead to important advances
in the independence and active participation of older people. However, the
right to privacy or aspects of dignity should be taken into account.
The gap in IT skills between the
generations is widening. In some Member States, some people are working until
much later in life than was the case previously. Accordingly, there is also a
need for action with regard to the labour market in order to reduce
Therefore, digitalisation may also exacerbate
inequalities and/or exclude certain groups who have limited or no access to
Demands on the Member States and the EU Commission
The Council conclusions call for the
strengthening of social inclusion and intergenerational solidarity. The issue
of ageing should be integrated into all policy areas. The situation of older
people must also be taken into consideration especially in the pandemic exit or
recovery strategies: older people, especially older women should be heard in
the relevant decision-making processes.
The conclusions see a need for action in
the field of health and social welfare and in long-term care. Digital services
should make access easier, not more difficult. At the same time, services
should still be available in the traditional way.
Furthermore, the EU Commission is to
support the Member States in measures aimed at preventing chronic diseases and
promoting health. The focus here should be on digitalisation.
Green Paper on ageing
The EU Commission wants to address the
issue of ageing in a new Green Paper (we reported here).
The Council conclusions recommend that the European Commission includes a
specific chapter on the rights of older people, including those with
disabilities, in this Green Paper. The focus should be on enabling older people
to have as much independence and participation in society as possible.
The EU Commission's Green Paper on ageing
is scheduled for spring 2021.