Can ageing workers count on solidarity between generations

The Labour Market Observatory of the EESC organised lively discussion on the topic

Population ageing is a challenge that poses jeopardy for the sustainability of the public finances in the EU, where pension spending amounts to 11% of GDP. A conference entitled “Solidarity between generations: a focus on ageing workers”, organised by the Labour Market Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 30 April in Brussels, touched upon a wide range of concerns about this crucial topic.

The focus during the debate was set on the situation of ageing workers and the preconditions for them to stay active in the new world of work. The event showcased several good practices from EU countries and featured speakers from the organised civil society, the Commission and the EESC.

The shared ideas and experience during the discussions will feed into an opinion that is currently being prepared by the EESC on “Changing world of work and ageing workers”, policy preparedness in addressing population ageing, which is at the request of the incoming Finnish Presidency of the Council.

The EU provides huge support to research on ageing through its Framework programme Horizon 2020. Beatrice Lucaroni, from the Non-communicable diseases and the challenge of healthy ageing unit, Dir E - Health, EC DG Research and Innovation, pointed out that in the last 12 years €1bn were invested in research for healthy ageing, for altogether 447 projects. This financial support will continue under the Horizon Europe in the next MFF.

Concerning societal challenges in the Work Programme 2018-19, there are 24 topics that address healthy ageing, with an indicative budget of €536m. Research on a number of issues on ageing is ongoing in the Work Programme 2020. Among them are personalised early risk prediction, prevention and intervention, and international cooperation in digital solutions and robotics for independent living.

The Active and assisted living programme that aims to create better condition of life for the older adults and to strengthen the industrial opportunities in Europe through the use of information and communication technology funded over 220 projects since 2008. The initiative is co-financed by the Commission through Horizon 2020 and 17 countries until the year 2020, for an approximate budget of €700m.

Active and healthy ageing offers also great opportunities, and if we are prepared to change our systems for health and social care, we can benefit from it, stressed Beatrice Lucaroni. Today Europeans over 65 have a spending capacity of over €3,000bn. Ageing in good health allows for working more years, travelling, learning new things, preparing our homes for living independently for the many years to come, she added.

Working conditions of workers of different ages is a study conducted by Eurofound, the EU Agency for the improvement of living and working conditions. Among the factors which enable workers to prolong their participation in the labour market, we found work-life balance, health and career prospects in general, underlined Oscar Vargas Llave, research Officer at Eurofound, who presented the survey.

Why do workers leave employment before retirement age? Most of them had reached eligibility for pension or because of their own health or disability. Then comes the reason that they had reached maximum retirement age, only after that rank causes such as lost job or inability to find a job, favourable financial arrangements to leave, or family or care-related reasons, the survey shows.

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