Ageing and social policy for elder in EU

Leta Dromantienė, Vida Kanopienė

Abstract


One of the most important changes in the development of population in European Union (EU) is demographic ageing - due to remarkable reductions in fertility levels and increasing life expectancy, the proportion of persons aged 60 and over is increasing very rapidly. The actual size of the elderly population in several EU countries already exceeds the projected estimations for 2010. These demographic challenges confirmed the importance of social affairs for its policy agenda. In combination with technological, structural and political change, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the prospects for further enlargement of the Union to the East, socio-demographic trends had intensified pressures on welfare systems, raising questions about the feasibility and desirability of achieving a common social policy and about the future shape of the „European social model“.
The emphasis placed on workers’ rights in the Community’s and Union’s treaties and charter signalled that European social policy was only indirectly concerned with categories of the population who did not gain entitlements to social protection as active members of labour force. The Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, later the Single European Act and the Treaty on European Union made no reference to older people. A statement on European policy for this potentially disadvantaged category of former or would-be workers was, however, introduced into the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers and a new article on non-discrimination in the Treaty of Amsterdam identified age among the areas where discrimination was to be eliminated.
Elderly policy remains one of the weakest areas of EU social policy. It began as an adjunct to traditional policy areas such as freedom of movement and employment policy and has only succeeded in expanding its influence by becoming an adjunct to traditional policy areas such as freedom of movement and employment policy and has only succeeded in expanding its influence by becoming an adjunct to social inclusion and anti-discrimination policy.
The European Council set the goal to raise the employment rate of people aged 55-64 years to 50% and to prolong by five years the average age of exit from the labour market. These targets require promoting active ageing through the interaction of social and employment policies. However, up till now there are many obstacles to longer working lives: social protection systems support the early retirement in various ways. Member states are beginning to recognize the importance of reforms – several measures are being gradually introduced with the aim to encourage longer participation in the labour market of the elderly.

Keywords


demographic ageing; labour market; social policy; integration; harmonisation of policy; retirement

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789