2020-05-09, Board of European Network of Green Seniors
2020-05-09, Board of European Network of Green Seniors
New informations from our ENGS Members in Germany and Finland
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the number of infections in Germany is developing positively. “The number of reported infections continues to fall. This is very good news, ”said President Lothar Wieler. But the previous recommendations would have to be followed to keep the number of infections low. “Keeping distance is the new daily routine,” he said. The number of people infected with the corona virus in Germany are 163,860. The RKI has recorded 6831 deaths so far. The number of those recovered was approximately 135,100.
In several german countries, however, there is sharp criticism of the uncoordinated advance. Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) emphasized: “You can’t stay together if everyone has decided beforehand what to do.” Some countries may have given some the impression that carefree encounters are possible again.
In Hamburg the playgrounds are open again and church services are allowed again. Museums, memorials and zoos may also open subject to conditions. Individual sport outdoors is possible.
Visits to nursing homes continue to be prohibited and many residents suffer from loneliness and depression. The Hamburg Greens consider the strict ban to be wrong and are discussing the conditions under which easing may be possible. Some nursing homes have found creative solutions. The restrictions affect not only older people, but also young people with disabilities and restrictions.
The virus has now killed 240 Finns. Situation is quite good – intensive care facilities are still available because restrictions have been strict.
Most of the dead are elderly, as in all other countries. As I wrote earlier, defining who has died of corona and who of other diseases is not easy. In some countries, the number of deaths might include all deaths, not only deaths for corona.
The government of Finland is considered to have made three mistakes in managing the corona.
1. In the early days of the disease, ski tourists returning from Alps and other areas were allowed to continue their journey from the airport without supervision and guidance. Some left in their own cars, but most walked from the airport to bus or train. Only after a few days the public transport users were directed to a week of quarantine at the airport hotel.
2. There are not enough protective masks in emergency stocks, even for the use of medical staff, let alone ordinary citizens. Their acquisition was a serious failure by the Security of Supply Center. It ordered millions of masks from two shady entrepreneurs and even paid in advance. And finally, most of the masks turned out to be unsuitable for the purpose.
3. The government promised economic help for companies that would suffer the most from restrictions. The subsidies were started from small entrepreneurs who employed at most five people. The money was distributed by an agency called Business Finland, according to loose criteria. The Agency was established to support innovative companies and money was given e.g. for desk drawer companies without net sales, IT and media consultants, etc. A few public figures also received money to make TV programs, games, etc. Delicious material for the yellow press and TV. And, of course to the opposition.
Now the public debate shifted to the following topic: coronaexit. Yesterday (May 4), after two days meeting, the government announced the first steps to lift the restrictions. They were as follows:
• Libraries open immediately
• 14.5. kindergartens and primary schools are opened, work travel from Estonia is allowed and outdoor activities are opened
• 1.6. schools of second stage and universities are opened, restaurants will be opened as long as distances are taken care of, sports competitions will be allowed – without the public, museums, theaters, youth and club facilities, swimming pools and other indoor sports venues will be carefully opened and the gathering limit will be raised from 10 to 50 people; big events for more than 500 people will remain prohibited at least until 31.7.
The recommendation to use telework, where possible, remains valid. For people over the age of 70 the recommendation to avoid physical contact remains in force.
Our members of the board of green seniors actually all wanted to meet in Skopje in May – now it looks like we’re going to meet digitally. And we exchange ideas regularly to hear how everyone is doing in the different countries. Here comes a small excerpt from Finnland, Belgium and Sweden. Next more from Austria and Germany. And it would be great if you also wrote from other countries about how you are doing!
“The situation with the pandemia prevails. In Sweden the curve for new incidents is flat and the situation in Stockholm is a bit better but we now have over 1000 dead with the middle age 59, 75% are men and 25 % women. Worse parts of Stockholm are two of the immigrant dense areas but that is not the fule in other parts. Now they have found virus in the waste water also and this is really scaring. I get a report every day from our cityadministration, both generally and for my part of the city. It is very sad to understand that the right safety equipment is scarce in the home care organisations and elderly homes. Most people who died are old and this is not uncommon with ordinarie fules eather but here it has to be due to bad instructions and equipment. Furthermore elderly in elderly homes with care are fragile already when they get into the homes. Most elderly are at home even if they are very old and need a lot of help both from home care and from the health care. Many get more than 25 different people visiting their home over a two week period.
The Belgian situation was not the worst situation, but not also the best. Since the 15 March we are in lock down and in a strict quarantine system !!
You can live your home only for a little walk (only or with max 3 persons from the same family), to buy food or to go at your work (necessary – because the mainstream is to work by internet). We have a population of 11 million people with 1,3 million are temporary unemployed. Even in our country, elder people suffers more from the corona crisis. And now we have a strong emergency plan in the retirement homes. But it is clear that the poorest people and families are hardest hit. It is not easy to live in a small apartment with three adults and four children.
The situation has now stabilized. It seems that we have reached “the peak”. The quarantine period runs just to 15 April. But an extantion just to the end of April is probably. However, normality will take a long time. Probably until September when the schools starts again. Travel will be allowed sparingly. And above 65 people will not be able to board the plane. Maybe people of other countries are allowed to travel (Austria, Denmark ??) , but it is sure that not every country will be ready on that time. We only have more clarity from April 15. But I’m afraid we won’t be able to travel before July.
As member of the urban sociale services of the city of Leuven, I was fully involved (and I still I am) in setting up urgent aid systems for this people. Fortunately, the population responded quickly with many volunteers. And most of them young people. In the meantime we learned to have regular meetings with videoconferences. (zoom and other programs). And also with our children and grandchildren we are in contact with apps, video and together systems.
If you need a doctor, only by your homedoctor. He/she will indicate a hospital if you need. No shops, no restaurants, no theater or concerts, no hairdresser, and so on.
Reino Lampinen (photo on the right), Secretary of the Aged Greens in Finland, spoke at the fringe meeting in Tampere, alongside the 30th meeting of EGP Council, about the New Finnish Policy of Elderly. Here comes his presentation:
The Programme starts with a very ambitious sentence:
“Climate change, globalisation, urbanisation, the ageing of the population and technological development are all transforming Finland and the world perhaps faster than ever before.”
Pledge for fair and equal treatment across generations
Older people are worried about the availability and quality of services and how they will be able to cope. … we want to guarantee a dignified old age for everyone so that nobody is left alone.
Attaining the employment goal requires measures that support the supply of and demand for labour and alleviate the labour market mismatch:
Employment of older people and others with poor employment prospects will be increased.
A socially sustainable and egalitarian EU
Decision-making within the EU will underscore the importance of measures against age discrimination and promote greater inclusiveness among older people and the notion of dignified old age.
Accessibility in the living environment, in services and in digitalisation, as well as lifelong learning and age-friendly work will be promoted within the EU.
Fostering an age-friendly society
Finland will be a more age-friendly society that recognises and prepares for the social effects of its ageing population.
Older people are not only service users; they are also an important resource in society.
The aim is to raise the number of healthy years, improve people’s functional capacity and secure efficient and timely services.
Reinforcing wellbeing and functional capacity
The Government will prepare a horizontal programme on ageing in collaboration with ministries, municipalities, third sector organisations and other actors.
The Government will bring the preventive measures against memory disorders in step with the prevention of other chronic diseases.
An office of an ombudsperson on older people’s rights will be established.
The Act on Care Services for Older Persons will be updated, and the scope, quality and effectiveness of services for older people will be improved.
A statutory minimum staffing level of 0.7 for care personnel in units providing 24-hour care will be enacted.
Care intensity will be used as the main criterion for determining appropriate staffing levels.
Most older people live at home, hence the quality and resourcing of home care will be developed
Government age programme in Finland 8.11.2019 10 alongside 24-hour care provision.
Reforming social security
EUR 183 million will be used to increase the smallest pensions by around EUR 50 a month in net terms. The increase would be targeted at those whose pension is less than EUR 1,000 a month.
The increase will be implemented through the national pension and guarantee pension systems.
A tripartite review will be started on how to improve the status of pensioners with the lowest earnings-based pensions within the employment pension system. The review will also examine ways to introduce a net increase of EUR 100 to pensions that are less than EUR 1,400 a month without increasing the level of pension insurance contributions.
Plenty of promises – any achievements?
The new Government has already released bills and budget proposals in order to meet the promises.
A working group prepares a horizontal programme on ageing.
An ombudsperson on older people’s rights was included in 2020 budget.
Social and Health Ministry’s working group has prepared a draft bill to increase the staffing level on care personnel to 0.7 per patient in 24-hour care units.
Smallest pensions will be raised by EUR 50 a month – the money required is included in 2020 budget.
Money! Finland got a letter from the European Commission – the Finnish budget deviates from the recommendation of the Commission.
Politics! Not only Commission but also the opposition Parties in Finland will oppose vigorously some of the proposals.
Next elections! The monthly polls on the popularity of the parties show that the Finns Party has constantly increased its share, and in the latest poll had 23,0 percent of supporters.
You might be eager to tell us about programmes and plans in your countries!
ENGS holds every third year an election of the board at the General Assembly. Usually ENGS holds a General assembly every year. Our General Assembly and most of the board meetings take place during the EGP meetings. We attend the EGP arrangements and put forward our view on the actual topics if they have got aspects affecting elderly. Examples are proposals of a third pillar in EU and the 2018 election manifesto. We attend the amendment and voting sessions and express our positions but we cannot vote. We try to get sympathy for our standpoints among the elected EGP members from our own countries. At all meetings we have had information stalls where people from the board are present and answer the questions of other people.
During the period 2016-19 the following meetings have taken place.
General assembly, election meeting, Utrecht
The board was elected as follows:
The meeting followed the agenda for the general assembly and a proposal about change of the statutes.
Board meeting Utrecht
The meeting was constitutional and planning next period.
Fringe meeting Utrecht
The meeting was an open round table. Due to the recent attacks in Paris, Ankara and Brussels the round table discussed democracy and a peaceful society ending in a written statement about: We the older generation are also responsible for how future generations can live together in solidarity.
Board meeting Glasgow
ENGS had two board meetings. The first was held to follow activities in different countries and formalities about budget and changed statutes. The second was to plan activities to get more members and more countries interested in the activities of ENGS. It was decided to produce a folder about the organisation. This was realised 2017.
Fringe meeting in Glasgow
The topic of our seminary was the gender pension gap. The pictures from the seminary and a short report were put together and published in facebook.
Board Meeting in Liverpool
The meeting took up formalities and discussed the French proposal: Strengthen the pillar of Social Rights – an age perspective. ENGS commented the proposal in the EGP voting session.
Fringe meeting in Liverpool
The meeting was a discussion on strengthening the situation for elderly in Europe, together with the Green Seniors of England and Wales and with attendance also from Australia and different European countries.
Board meeting Hamburg
An extra meeting was held to sort out the future after the chairwoman had left ENGS.
It was decided to share the work between the Board members. The vice-chair would take on the responsibility as chair until next General assembly which should be hold in Karlstad. A by-election would be arranged at that meeting. The board was invited to a meeting with Hamburg seniors by their chair Christa Muller.
General assembly Karlstad
The General assembly was held and ENGS had made efforts to find persons for the vacancies at the Board but no-one volunteered. Hence it was decided that the vice-chair ought continuously take on the responsibility.
Board meeting Karlstad
It was decided that Vivianne Gunnarsson should be temporarily chair until next autumn and Kris Fierens should be a co-treasurer (under Tony Cooreman’s illness). It was also decided to invite Christa Muller to the board meetings (hopefully to take a seat at the board in the future). The plan for next fringe meeting was to combine seniors’ voluntary work and the labour market for elderly. The resolution in Liverpool from the French group on strengthening the pillar of Social Rights was not carried but the EGP council decided on a proposal by Ska Keller to set up an activity group to elaborate the resolution. ENGS will ask for a place there.
Fringe meeting Karlstad
The title of the fringe meeting was “No discrimination on the job market”. ENGS made an introduction to the topic followed by a lecture by the Swedish Parliamentarian, Stefan Nilsson.
The conclusion is that there exists age discrimination all over Europe and that people fall out from the job market earlier than ever.
Board meeting Antwerpen
We went through internal questions such as budget, contact list and e-mail addresses. The Flemish greens had put forward a resolution on the 3-pillar issue that ENGS had made amendments on. Two of these were taken by EGP.
Parts of the board visited our founder Tony Cooreman who was in hospital since a long time.
During the summer he died and left us in bereavement. Shed peace over his memory.
Fringe meeting Antwerpen
ENGS held a seminary on the issue “Loosing elections by losing the elderly voters” beginning with an introduction by Secretary General Frank Hauser.
ENGS sent 3rd July 2018 a note on the Antwerp fringe meeting results, based on Frank’s presentation, to Monica Frassoni, Reinhardt Bütikofer and Mar Garcia/EGP to use in the manifesto. In this note we pointed out topics of importance for the elderly in EU:
- old age poverty,
- accommodation and neighbourhood,
- discrimination of the elderly (as early as from 45 – 50 years) in the job market,
- passing on of experience – life-long learning,
- voluntary work,
- access to health care – at home, nursing home or hospital?
- assistance to elderly migrants,
- generation policy empowered by both young and old.
Mar Garcia answered 11 July: ”Thank you very much for your concise report! We will bring it to the Committee meeting that is happening this weekend with the aim to take it into account in a build-up of the Manifesto.
General Assembly Berlin
The general meeting went through the formal issues and there was a discussion about the chair since Vivianne Gunnarsson had taken on the responsibility until the autumn 2018. No new names had been visible for the post. Hence Vivianne promised to sit until someone else comes forward, hopefully next general meeting.
ENGS had arranged a table with a book and photo of Tony Cooreman for people to give condolence.
Board meeting Berlin
Besides formalities we discussed the preparation of amendments or other input to the ongoing EGP-meeting i.e. from the EGP Activity plan. We discussed preparations for the elections of a new board next spring (unfortunately the meeting in spring 2019 was cancelled due to the EU elections). Another issue was the upcoming EU election and our efforts to increase the membership.
Fringe meeting Berlin
More elderly to vote in the EU elections, round table discussion.
Board meeting in Vienna
Extra board meeting to make plans for Tampere and future of ENGS.
General assembly in Tampere with election of the board for next 3 years
Election of a new board.
Board meeting Tampere
New members of the board plan the future of ENGS.
Fringe Meeting Tampere
New Finnish Government programme – policy for the elderly, seminary with invited guests and invited seniors from Tampere.
4 October 2019
Dear representatives of Green Seniors
You are cordially invited to the next General Assembly (GA) on the European Network of Green Seniors. The Assembly will convene Saturday 9 November 2019 at 13.00 – 14.15 in Tampere, Helsinki alongside the 30th meeting of EGP Council. The venue of the GA will be the venue of the EGP Council, namely Tampere-hall, Yliopistonkatu 55, 33100 Tampere, Finland.
This invitation is sent to all Member associations of the EGP. We cordially ask you to distribute this information to your Green senior’s association or, if no such association exists, to the senior members of your Party. (If there isn’t a Green Senior association in your country, we would strongly recommend establishing one. The population in all European countries is ageing and the Green movement cannot prosper if the older generations are not drawn to the activity of the Green Parties.)
In accordance with Article 6.3 of our Statutes (https://www.greenseniors.eu/about-us/statutes-engs/) the GA convenes once a year. The agenda for the meeting is the following:
1. Opening – Chair of the meeting, secretary, confirmation
2. Confirmation of entitled to vote
3. Notice to attend the GA
4. Approval of the minutes of the last GA in Berlin 2018
5. Elections of chairwoman/man, treasurer, secretary general, decision about the number of members of the Board, election of Board members in addition to the elected ones
6. Annual report for 2018 and three year report for 2016-2018
7. Financial report for 2018
9. GA gives approval of the period´s performance to the previous Board
10. Membership fee
11. Plan and budget and the current finances
12. Proposals from the Board
13. Motions from members
14. Other questions raised in the beginning of the meeting
The Board kindly asks everyone who is interested to join the Board and in particular in the role of the chairperson for ENGS to notify her/himself by sending a CV to our Secretary General Frank Hauser email@example.com by 26 October 2019 at the latest.
Vice-Chairperson Vivianne Gunnarsson
Secretary General Frank Hauser
19 Feb 2019 Finnish Greens’ Parliamentary Fraction published their senior policy guidelines, prepared in cooperation with the Aged Greens in Finland and Helsinki area Evergreens. You can read the guidelines hereunder:
“Green senior policy is based on respect for elderly people. Elderly people have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and abilities. Their active social participation entails benefits for all of us and is, above all, a source of pleasure for themselves. Each aged person deserves to get good-quality care and support in every-day life and, likewise, versatile stimuli.
The essential thing in good old age is to retain one’s decision-power regarding one’s life. Elderly persons shall have a right to full life and to self-realization within their physical and mental capabilities. The Greens support an active role of elderly people as citizens.
(1) Sufficient livelihood to everybody
The total monthly retirement pension of nearly every fourth pensioner is under one thousand EURO. The position of women living alone and over 75 years of age is especially weak. The livelihood of pensioners getting the lowest incomes has to be improved.
We want to:
- make a fair increase in the amount of the guaranteed pension;
- ensure that in case of an equally high pension or salary, the take-home amount is equal; and
- harmonize the maximum amounts of medicine, travel, and patient charges.
(2) Flexibility at working life
Employees approaching the retirement age are a resource for enterprises and Society. Working life has to be improved through the introduction of flexible working hours for ageing persons.
We want to:
- extend working careers by flexible and tailor-made arrangements;
- improve job well-being through enabling part-time hours at the approach of retirement; and
- prevent age discrimination in all situations.
(3) Good care
Each elderly person deserves to get high-quality care. Families and the personnel shall be able to report mistreatment without fearing consequences.
We want to:
- ensure a sufficient number of nurses to be stipulated by legislation;
- improve the surveillance on implemented care; and
- create national rules regulating home care by family members.
(4) It pays to look after one’s health
Independence and the possibility to decide on one’s life improve the life-quality of an ageing person. Meaningful occupation supports the well-being of seniors.
We want to:
- establish elderly people’s welfare clinics;
- provide pay-checks for motioning and cultural activities, and arrange daily outing facilities; and
- give also support to the rehabilitation of severely disabled persons older than 65 years.
(5) Loneliness to be prevented together
The experience of loneliness does not depend on age or gender. Many lonely seniors are suffering from memory disturbances, depression, and lack of safety, which all contributes to increased social isolation.
We want to:
- encourage joint activities by nurseries, schools, and elderly people’s homes;
- support friend and senior social work; and
- cut traffic charges for elderly people.
(6) Housing according to phase of life and individual wishes
Regarding housing arrangements of elderly persons, each senior’s own wishes are to be complied with in the first place. Instead of expensive institutional care, less heavy collective alternatives are to be preferred.
We want to:
- offer various kinds of housing forms to elderly people;
- provide to married couples the possibility of spending their old age together; and
- ensure local services by sound community planning, transport pools, and digital services.
(7) Accessibility inherent in daily life
Accessibility is vital element of moving, running errands, acoustics, seeing, and perceiving. Equal and non-discriminatory services shall be the principle running through all public planning and construction.
We want to:
- reinforce home services for seniors;
- facilitate the moving of elderly persons and persons without cars; and
- support the installation of elevators.
(8) More taste of life to senior days through participation
Elderly persons shall be listened to in relevant decisions. The Greens want to encourage elderly persons to take part in decision-making at all levels.
We want to:
- establish the office of an Ombudsman for Seniors ;
- stabilize the position of local Old People’s Councils; and
- increase the possibilities of elderly people to contribute to decision-making.”
PLEASE INFORM US ABOUT YOUR OWN WISHES!
Heli Järvinen, MP, Vice Chairman of Parliamentary Committee for Working Life and Equality
Tel. +358 50 512 1736
Reino Lampinen, Chair/Aged Greens
+358 50 5151 303
Auni-Marja Vilavaara, Chair/Evergreens of
Helsinki Region (IKIVI)
+358 50 542 5174
From Reino Lampinen, legal officer, Finland
In Finland, this spring we will have two major elections: parliamentary elections in April and as all others, EU Parliament elections in May. The political Parties are busy in preparing material and standpoints for the elections.
In all countries where the Greens are a political Party, it has been known as a Party for the young. We, the aged Greens in Finland, wanted to remind the members of our own Party as well as the other political Parties that also we elderly are concerned about the climate change. We distributed this text to the other Parties and media. And, on purpose, the day when IPCC published its request to keep the warming under 1,5 degrees.
Following the fringe meeting in Antwerp we wrote a letter to the Chairs of the European Green Party as well as its Secretary General. The contents of the letter is self-evident – we remind this Party of young that the elderly also matter. At least they are crucial for the success of Green Parties, in EU Parliament elections and also in national elections.
EUROPEAN NETWORK OF GREEN SENIORS
Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer, Chairpersons of the EGP
Mar Garcia, Secretary General of the EGP
THE ROLE OF ELDERLY IN FORTHCOMING EU (AND OTHER) ELECTIONS
Dear Chairs and dear Secretary General,
During the latest EGP Council meeting, 19 May 2018 in Antwerpen, the European Network of Green Seniors (ENGS) arranged a fringe meeting under title ”How to inspire more elderly to vote Green in the EU elections”. Frank Hauser, our Secretary General, presented the situation in certain Member States in most recent European elections. The presentation as well as the notes on the discussion after that can be found from ENGS site http://www.greenseniors.eu/.
The situation in all Member States seems to be similar: the young vote more eagerly for the Greens, while the elderly seem to choose other Parties. And this is not enough: in almost all Member States the population is ageing, and the demographic trend continues in the future. These trends reinforce each other and together they are dangerous for the Green movement.
We urge that this development will be taken seriously. This means that in addition to the young EGP as well as the Green Parties in all Member States should address also the seniors and stress issues important for them. There are plenty of them, and main part of them was also mentioned in the seminar mentioned above. We list these subjects here:
− sufficient pensions,
− economy, in particular old age poverty,
− accommodation and neighbourhood,
− discrimination of the elderly (as early as from 45 – 50 years) in the job market,
− passing of experience – life-long learning,
− voluntary work,
− access to health care – at home, nursing home or hospital?
− assistance to elderly migrants,
− generation policy empowered by both young and old.
If needed, ENGS would be happy to help EGP in these endeavours.
With best regards
Stockholm 28 July 2018
Vice chair of the ENGS firstname.lastname@example.org +46 70 3520355
Secretary General of the ENGS email@example.com +49 221 56933526
Frank Hauser in ENGS fringe meeting during the EGP Council in Antwerp 19 May 2018
Facts and Data about an alarming and forgotten problem
In 2019 we will have the next European elections. We are of course close to elderly voters in Europe and each of us in our home countries.
We – The Green Movement – are on a way to loose political influence in Europe by losing voters aged over 60.
The results of 2014 have already been a real disaster without causing any reaction, change of policies or election campaigning. Three examples without having chosen the worst. Austria, Germany and Sweden.
In Austria 26 % of the voters aged under 29 voted Greens, still 14 % from 30 to 59. But only 6 % over 60 years.
In Germany around 11 % of all voters made it Green. Around 7 % between 60 and 70. Over 70 years it fell to depressing 3 %. Newer national and regional elections in Germany show that this development is increasing.
In Sweden we had a great success in 2014 by 15,14 %. There 23 % of the young (18-21 years) voted for Greens, but only 10 % of the voters over 64 took Greens as their choice.
The demographic changes in Europe make this problem bigger and not smaller.
And the effect is even higher if you take into consideration that elderly people take part on elections to a far higher percentage than the group of the people under the age of 50.
We would like to invite you to a discussion how you see this and what can be a solution.
From our point of view we need immediate action.