EY2014 announced as the prolongation of EYC2013 to mobilize citizens around the EU elections
Citizens need to mobilize for 2014 EU elections to ensure a more democratic and citizens-friendly EU
Last week, at the closing event of the EYC2013 in Vilnius, the European Commission announced that the objectives of the EYC2013 of Citizens will be pursued in 2014. Although AGE Platform Europe strongly supported the adoption of a European Year for reconciling work and family life in 2014, we also understand the decision of the European Commission to carry on the work to support citizens’ participation in the upcoming European elections and raise awareness of the current challenges faced by the EU.
In these times of economic crisis and austerity measures, the European Union is facing a major crisis of confidence and a rise in extremism which is likely to be reflected in the polls at the next EU elections in May 2014. In this context, informing EU citizens about EU role and encouraging them to take part in the upcoming European Parliament elections is all the more important to make sure that the elections results will indeed reflect what they really want and that future EU policy decisions will effectively take their concerns and needs into considerations..
‘AGE hopes that the actions that will be implemented next year will be focused on empowering EU citizens’, said Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, ‘Concrete initiatives should be taken at local, regional, national and EU level to improve EU citizens’ information on their rights and on how they can take part in the policy-making processes. Mobilizing EU citizens at local level and linking them with citizens’ movement at national and EU level is key to achieve large scale results’.
Launched in September and in the framework of the European Year 2013, the Active Senior Citizens for Europe (ASCE) project, coordinated by AGE Platform Europe, aims at fostering a greater ownership of the European Union among older citizens by giving them the opportunity to learn more about the EU and to interact with EU policy makers in order to achieve a more democratic and age-friendly EU. The project is offering trainings based on the brochure ‘Active Citizens for Europe: A guide to the EU’ at all levels to reach EU citizens and have the opportunity to foster discussions on EU policies and initiatives.
Ahead of the European elections, AGE has also published a blog ‘Towards an Age-friendly European Parliament’ aimed at presenting AGE Manifesto for the European Parliament elections 2014, offering a platform for discussion between MEPs and older EU citizens as well as sharing information on on-going campaigns for the elections and issues of concern for older persons in Europe. We believe that engaging citizens through trainings and online discussions will help us raise awareness about EU policies and why participating in a meaningful way in the upcoming elections matter.
However we are still fully aware that creating supportive environments to address demographic challenge includes measures to better reconcile both family and professional duties. Adaptation of the work conditions and availability of accessible quality services, in particular in relation to care for children and other dependent persons, are prerequisites to allow access to employment to everyone, which is a key objective of the European Commission’s work programme and the Europe 2020 growth strategy. The need for other supportive services has also emerged including household and personal support. Next to employment issue, improving work life balance would also help tackle gender issue and promote active ageing. This issue is part of a comprehensive societal debate, which goes far beyond the parenthood issue, to encompass wider social, economic, cultural, institutional and political issues that impact the lives of citizens.
For that reason, AGE hopes that this issue will be among the top priorities of the next European Parliament and European Commission and that a European Year for Reconciling Work and Family Life will be designated in the coming years.