13 European Year for Active Ageing |
|Draft Decision on the European Year for Active Ageing
|Legal base||Article 153(2) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
|Document originated||6 September 2010
|Deposited in Parliament||10 September 2010
|Department||Work and Pensions
|Basis of consideration||EM of 22 September 2010
|Previous Committee Report||None
|To be discussed in Council||21 October 2010
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
13.1 Each year, since 1983, the EU has proposed a "European
Year" to raise awareness about a particular theme and to
provide a focus for activity by EU institutions, national, local
and regional authorities, and representatives of civil society.
Each European Year usually has a dedicated budget which enables
the EU to subsidise EU-level events and to provide co-funding
for actions undertaken at national, regional or local level. So,
for example, the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and
Social Exclusion has a budget of 17 million, covering a
two-year period, and the 2011 European Year for Volunteering has
a budget of 8 million for one year.
13.2 The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer
Affairs Council agreed Conclusions in November 2009 and June 2010
inviting the Commission to designate 2012 the European Year of
Active Ageing in order to promote awareness of the benefits of
The draft Decision
13.3 The purpose of the draft Decision is to designate
2012 as the European Year of Active Ageing and to enable all those
with a role to play in promoting active ageing to plan campaigns
and activities around this theme. Article 2 of the draft Decision
defines "active ageing" as "creating better opportunities
and working conditions to enable older workers to play their part
in the labour market, combating social exclusion by fostering
active participation in society, and encouraging healthy ageing".
The objectives of the Year are to:
- raise awareness of the value
of active ageing by
highlighting the contribution that older workers can make to society
and to the economy and doing more to mobilise the potential of
- exchange ideas and good practice on
how best to promote active ageing policies; and
- provide a framework for action
to enable Member States and others with a role to play to develop
policies and specific activities to encourage active ageing.
13.4 The types of activities envisaged include conferences,
educational campaigns, awareness-raising and dissemination of
good practice, and research and survey work. Each Member State
is required to appoint a national co-ordinator to organise activities
at national level and to co-ordinate with their counterparts in
other Member States and with the Commission.
13.5 In its explanatory memorandum accompanying the
draft decision, the Commission suggests that promoting a healthy
and active lifestyle and encouraging older people to stay in employment
for longer will help to preserve their autonomy while also mitigating
the social and economic costs associated with rapidly ageing societies
in Europe. The European Year of Active Ageing is intended to create
better opportunities for older workers to remain active in the
labour market and to help combat social exclusion by encouraging
voluntary work and other activities. It also complements the EU's
Europe 2020 Strategy for Jobs and Growths which encourages Member
States to "promote new forms of work-life balance and active
ageing policies and to increase gender equality".
13.6 The Commission says that it has consulted widely
on the theme of active ageing and that, while policy in this area
is largely a national responsibility, Member States consider that
a European Year could help to increase general awareness of the
benefits of active ageing and to mobilise policy makers and other
interested parties to commit themselves to specific goals and
actions at national, regional, local and company levels. Unlike
previous European Years, the Commission does not propose a dedicated
budget to support active ageing policies and initiatives. Any
EU funding will come from existing budget lines and programmes.
13.7 The legal base for the draft Decision establishing
the European Year for Active Ageing is Article 153(2) of the Treaty
on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). EU measures based
on this Article are intended to "support and complement"
the activities of Member States in the field of social policy
enumerated in Article 153(1), including on working conditions,
the integration of individuals excluded from the labour market
and, on combating social exclusion. Article 153(2)(a) provides
for measures to "encourage co-operation between Member States
through initiatives aimed at improving knowledge, developing exchanges
of information and best practices, promoting innovative approaches
and evaluating experiences", and excludes any harmonisation
of national laws. Article 153 (2)(b) provides for the adoption
of Directives establishing legally binding "minimum requirements".
Action at EU level is justified, according to the Commission,
because the purpose of the European Year is to stimulate the trans-national
exchange of information and dissemination of good practice.
The Government's view
13.8 The Minister for Employment (Chris Grayling)
supports the designation of 2012 as the European Year for Active
Ageing and says that the objectives set out in the draft Decision
are consistent with UK policy. He notes that no new policy, legislative
or financial implications arise for the UK from the Commission's
proposal. He adds that the Year "provides opportunities for
the UK to showcase its own good practices, encouraging localities
to give attention to what makes them good places to grow older,
and to share their experiences, achievements and challenges with
European communities with whom they already have existing relationships."
The Minister says that the draft Decision is likely to be adopted
by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Council on 21 October.
13.9 We note the Government's enthusiastic support
for the designation of 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing.
The proposed focus on active ageing appears to fit well with the
themes highlighted in the European Years for 2010 and 2011
on combating poverty and social exclusion and promoting volunteering
and this continuity may make the task of raising awareness
and mobilising action easier to achieve. The focus on active ageing
also complements the active labour market policies envisaged in
the EU's Europe 2020 Strategy.
13.10 We note that the budgetary implications
of the Commission's proposal to designate 2012 as the European
Year of Active Ageing will be far more modest than in previous
years, with all EU funding coming from existing budget lines and
programmes. We look forward to the Commission's evaluation report
on the European Year, in 2014, to see what impact (if any) reduced
EU funding has on the attainment of the objectives in Article
2 of the draft Decision.
13.11 Some aspects of the activities proposed
for the European Year of Active Ageing such as the promotion
of a healthy lifestyle and volunteering touch on policy
areas dealt with elsewhere in the Treaties on public health and
vocational training, but also fall within the broad ambit of activities
contemplated in Article 153(1). We think that amending the legal
base of the draft Decision to refer specifically to Article 153(2)(a)
would help to clarify the nature of EU action as a means of facilitating
co-operation between Member States while expressly excluding any
harmonisation of national laws. We are content to clear the draft
Decision from scrutiny while drawing it to the attention of the
53 See Europe 2020, under the Flagship Initiative on
An Agenda for new skills and jobs, http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/pdf/COMPLET%20EN%20BARROSO%20%20%20007%20-%20Europe%202020%20-%20EN%20version.pdf.