Presentation in Tampere: New Finnish Policy for the Elderly

IMG_4517Reino 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:

Bildschirmfoto 2019-11-20 um 15.07.42The new Government

  • After the elections in April 2019 the negotiations on the new Government were started, led by the Social Democrats.
  • In a short while, and rather easily, a new coalition was formed.
  • It consists from members of the SDP, Centre Party, Greens, Left and Swedish – the Centre Party is the only one from the former Government.
  • This coalition represents 56 % of the votes, hence it has a quite clear majority.

The Greens in the GovernmentBildschirmfoto 2019-11-20 um 15.28.52

  • There are now 20 Green MP’s, compared to 15 in the former Parliament (total number of the MP’s is 200).
  • There are three Green Ministers in the new Government, and they have very heavy posts:
  1. External affairs
  2. Internal Affairs
  3. Environment and Climate

The Programme

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.

Improving services

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!

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Three-year annual report for 2016-19

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.

  • 20 May 2016               board meeting and General assembly, election meeting, Utrecht
  • 2-3 Dec 2016               two board meetings, Glasgow
  • 1 April 2017                 board meeting, Liverpool
  • 29-29 July 2017          board meeting, Hamburg
  • 24 Nov 2017                board meeting and General assembly, Karlstad
  • 19 May 2018                board meeting Antwerp
  • 23-25 Nov 2018          board meeting and General assembly Berlin
  • 3 Oct 2019                   board meeting Wien
  • 8-10 Nov                      board meeting and General assembly election meeting Tampere

General assembly, election meeting, Utrecht

The board was elected as follows:

  • Annette Muggenthaler, Germany, chair
  • Vivianne Gunnarsson, Sweden vice-chair
  • Franc Hauser, Germany, secretary general
  • Tony Cooreman, Belgium, treasurer
  • Birgit Meinhard-Schiebel, Austria, press officer
  • Reino Lampinen, Finland, legal officer

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,

-               mobility,

-               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.

Forthcoming meeting:

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.

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Invitation to the General Assembly in Tampere, Finland 8-10. November 2019

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 ( 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
8. Audit
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
15. Closure.

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 by 26 October 2019 at the latest.

Vice-Chairperson Vivianne Gunnarsson

Secretary General Frank Hauser

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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.”


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


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Bulletin on climate change from Finnish elderly Greens

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.

Finnish bulletin 2018

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Letter to the EGP

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.



Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer, Chairpersons of the EGP

Mar Garcia, Secretary General of the EGP


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

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,
−  mobility,
−  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

Vivianne Gunnarsson
Vice chair of the ENGS +46 70 3520355

Frank Hauser
Secretary General of the ENGS +49 221 56933526

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Losing Elections by losing the elderly Voters

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.

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How to inspire more elderly to vote Green in the EU elections NGS in Antwerp – our fringe meeting

Reino Lampinen 

ENGS Fringe Meeting in Antwerp 19 May 2018

Altogether 17 people attended the meeting, 12 visitors both from international and EGP organisations as well from national Green associations. Also six ENGS Board members were present.

From left: Birgit Meinhard, Frank Hauser, Christa Möller, Vivianne Gunnarsson, Reino Lampinen, Kris Fierens

From left: Birgit Meinhard, Frank Hauser, Christa Möller, Vivianne Gunnarsson, Reino Lampinen, Kris Fierens

 Seminar was opened by ENGS vice-chair Vivianne Gunnarsson. She presented our association and the members of the Board.

Our Secretary General Frank Hauser had prepared a slide show under title Losing Elections by losing the elderly Voters. The slides can be found separately on this site.

After the presentation we had a lively discussion. The audience acknowledged the situation also in other countries than the three examples by Frank. It is necessary to build argumentation on facts. Therefore we must look for reports on election results among different age groups in Europe. Statistics shall be used to make people aware of the situation.


Trends are European-wide, even global: the share of elderly in the population is rising. Simultaneously people tend to become more conservative with age. This change in values can be found in other areas, too. In Germany 80-90 per cent of people with conservative values say they are worried of the refugees, while only 30 per cent of Greens share this view.

These developments are a serious threat for the Green policy and the Green parties throughout Europe. The older generations vote more eagerly than the young and are more conservative. With bigger share of seniors we get ever more conservative decision makers for municipal councils, national and regional parliaments and the EP.

What is needed is a Green policy that takes into account this mathematics: the Greens cannot prosper if they only concentrate on the issues concerning the young: education, children care, mothers etc. Issues like the environment, global change, democracy, gender questions etc. interest all age groups but also issues and problems of the elderly must be put on the table.

It was a general notion that the elderly are feeling unwanted in the Green movement.

The Greens tend to choose young leaders for themselves. Is this really the best approach for the Greens as a Party? It is important for all age groups to be recognised at least as candidates, even if it is more likely that the elderly elect more mature leaders.  Maybe women with experience can attract more than one group. This is at least an experience from Sweden.

The perception of age has changed. This change follows the fact that more people than before are needed in the job market in order to finance the care of the growing share of the “really” old. Now 40’s are considered to be “hippies”, and today many of them have small babies. People aged 60 or more are considered “seniors”. Old “middle-aged” from 40 to 50 fall there between and do not belong to either of those groups.

Many Greens choose to work with only one question, today for instance refugees or climate.

The climate change is important, of course, but not the only issue to be worried about. The social issues are also important and in many countries the Green party has been more interested in the social issues than in the environment and ecology.

Media was also mentioned: they often are not very interested in general on the elderly, e.g. the social work for the elderly, neither on the social or voluntary work done by the elderly. Today voluntary work is not valued as there are more cheap workers. Communication tends to be focused on young people.

Greens must be friendlier towards all people. We do a lot of for elderly but we don´t communicate this in the right way. Benefits for elderly must be more accurately communicated to get more voters for the Greens. Our message must be something that attracts, something to express happiness. We need a positive discussion with assumed voters – we must communicate in a positive way what we have done so far.

A generation policy would attract more young and elderly. Voters need someone who is going to support their interests in policy and it probably must be somebody they feel affiliated with. Young and old need each other – we must communicate a generation policy.

Finally, Vivianne presented the items in the focus of the ENGS:

-       no discrimination for the elderly in job market

-       passing of experience – lifelong learning

-       sufficient pensions

-       voluntary work

-       access to health care – dying with dignity

-       mobility

She asked the audience for ideas to develop our activity. She also asked what makes people happy or for what they are concerned.


The audience mentioned first mobility – everyone, both young and old, in job life, in school, in parental leave or in pension, needs good and moderately priced mobility. On the other hand there is a contradiction: when Greens try to reduce the role of car in cities many elderly don´t agree. They feel that their needs are underrated because the private car is the means for their mobility.

Greens must find ways to explain better that they are not against all forms of car travels. A car can also be part of public transport if subscribed and shared.

Mobility has a link to participation in the society. Without good transport possibilities many seniors are more inactive than they want.

Neighbourhoods are important for happiness. Good results have been achieved with experiments of mixing young and old to support each other, for instance to live in the same premises to help each other with cooking, care of children and the old and other daily matters.

The representative of Slovenia mentioned pensioners’ party in her country – it has been permanently in the Government with its c. 10 per cent share of votes.

Promise of better pension works – at least in some countries with very low incomes.

To sum up: we listen to you and to your needs, we want to make a difference and make it together with you.

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European Green Council Antwerpen starts with Campaign


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Minutes from ENGS Fringe Meeting Karlstad 2017





Karlstad 26 November 2017

Reino Lampinen


ENGS Fringe Meeting 25 November 2017 from 14.30 to 16.15

No Discrimination in the Job Market

Altogether 16 people attended the meeting, 10 visitors and 5 ENGS Board members (Vivianne Gunnarsson, Frank Hauser, Birgit Meinhardt, Kris Fierens and Reino Lampinen) and as guest: Stefan Nilsson, member of the national Parliament of Sweden and a member of the Parliaments social and health committee.

Seminar was opened by ENGS vice-chair Vivianne Gunnarsson. As an introduction she showed slides covering the main issuesincluding

− statistics on employment and unemployment by age and different countries
− European employment strategy, targets and initiatives.

Discrimination of elderly in the job market has not been really highlighted by the EU or EGP. Vivianne stated that in EU pillar of social rights only one of four main titles includes age. Also the EGP resolution adopted in Liverpool only touches the discrimination of elderly.

Stefan Nilsson, Sweden, MNP member of national parliament continued on a Swedish study on reasons for discrimination in the job market. Disability was found to be the main reason for discrimination while the high age is the second important. There are also differences in the interaction between age groups. He recommended that at least in Sweden word “årsrika” (“rich in years”) should be used instead of “elderly”. The age limit 55 as a reason for the unemployment of the elderly is gradually moving towards 45 years – ever younger have great difficulties to get a new job if unemployed.

The continuously rising share of pensioners of population and rising numbers of unemployed people both lead to problems in financing pensions. There are differences between countries. From audience: there are great differences even between regions inside a country – between rural areas and cities.

Nilsson also remarked that the Swedes get every day 3,5 h more living age – that means 1 h/week or 52 h/year, i.e. more than two days more living age every year!

In Sweden there is already flexibility in the pension system. The more you work and the more you earn the bigger pension you get. It is possible to get a pension at 61 or you can wait until 65, the general pension age, but you also have the right to work until 67. A new pension agreement will probably enter into force from 2018. The pension age will then be 66 years and in 2020 it will be raised to 67 years with the right to stay until 68 respective 69 with the same employer. Public employees, both governmental and community employees, must have reached 30 years of service for a full pension.

There is at the same time lack of jobs and lack of workforce. From the audience: maybe more demand of experienced folk.

Frank Hauser: when the age increases, then the years of unemployment lengthen for those who are unemployed. This is dramatic for those who know that at 50 years they’ll have next 15 to 25 years of poverty. One reason for unemployment for the elderly is the wage level: the elderly request 25-30 €/h when the young may be ready to work for 10 €/h.

From the audience (UK): solution would be minimum basic income. Old women are a huge resource for the society even if they are not paid. From Sweden: the pension for public sector workers is very close to the poverty line in the EU. (which is about 1400 Euro). Also in these cases the solution would be minimum pension. Discussion of basic income is more ore less dead in Sweden although many green party members still want to put it in place.

Information of trials on basic income:

− In Finland a trial is going on. For 2 years, 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018, a 560 € a monthly basic income will be paid for 2000 unemployed people without conditions or substitute. The trial will be lead by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. It selected the group as a random sample from unemployed people. A follow-up study will be done 2019. This 2000 person group will be compared to a group of other unemployed persons, in total 173 000. This study will look at e.g. the difference in employment between these two groups during and after the trial.
− In Netherlands different cities test different models.
− Also GEF (Green European Foundation) is studying different models for minimum basic income.

From the audience: The pension age should be adjusted accordingto the heaviness of the work – heavy work, lower pension age. Today the work might be more stressing even when the work is not physically so heavy. So the heaviness here covers also stressing mental jobs. This stress might cover also nurses, teachers etc. There is also need for pension at very low age due to illnesses. As a conclusion: chronological age is not a good basis for pension.

There are big differences in the minimum pension age: even from 50 to 55 in some Mediterranean countries. Even bigger differences between continents if you think of e.g. Africa!

Older workers and their experience are also a threat on the employer: they might know better than their younger bosses. But a positive remark: wisdom and experience of the elderly might be asked for in the future!

Finally we had a lengthy discussion on voluntary work: is it always really voluntary? Grandmothers helping 3 or 10 grandchildren? Pensioners helping their parents?

Frank: Voluntary work makes poor! It means that a paid work will be replaced by “voluntary” unpaid or very poorly paid work. If an unemployed person works voluntarily, her/his pension won’t improve.

Some more reflections by the participants:

− Should we take voluntary work, its definition and its impact on the job market, paid compensation or “salary” and pensions as a title for forthcoming fringe meetings.
− Ethnologists are wondering: during the stone-age people didn’t work more than 6 hours/day. What have we done wrong when we now have to work more?
− Would security be a theme for future sessions? It should be certain that one would live decently on the wage and the pension.


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