“Elderly people are a gift and a resource, […] they cannot be seen as separated from communities”, states the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) together with FAFCE in the reflection paper “The Elderly and the Future of Europe”, jointly published on Thursday 3 December 2020. COMECE-FAFCE General Secretaries: “Let’s transform the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity for a shift of paradigm and for regenerating our way of thinking on the elderly”.
Entitled “The Elderly and the Future of Europe: Intergenerational solidarity and care in times of demographic change”, the document calls on EU and national policy makers to develop a change of paradigm and for regenerating our way of thinking in times of demographic change and in the context of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The COMECE-FAFCE reflection paper comes following the publication of European Commission’s “Report on the Impact of Demographic Change” and as a contribution to the upcoming “Green Paper on Aging”, whose publication is foreseen for 2021.
“The elderly are an integral part of the family, a source of support and encouragement for the younger generations. They cannot be separated from society and relational networks” – reads the COMECE-FAFCE document, highlighting that elderly people are not only vulnerable persons, but also dynamic actors of social life.
The current Covid-19 pandemic revealed hidden vulnerabilities in our societies, with the elderly often in the periphery of daily life. According to COMECE and FAFCE, it is time to recognize the crucial role of the elderly, protecting, promoting and including them, ensuring their full participation in our communities.
The reflection paper recommends national governments to make use of the resources of the proposed EU Recovery Plan for investing in intergenerational relations and in new structures of solidarity – including informal care, volunteering and age-friendly urban environments – and in demographic and family policies.
The publication has been elaborated in collaboration with the COMECE-FAFCE ad-hoc working group of experts on the situation of the elderly in EU societies. The document serves as a starting point for a deeper discussion on the topic, which will also include a webinar to be held in 2021.