The EU never ceases to amaze me. I am an ardent pro-European, a very strange beast for a Brit. My first departure from the Labour Party came in the 1975 referendum on the UK’s membership: not done for a student politician to be in favour of the YES vote to stay in. (Iraq before you ask).
But at times it is demoralising to be so easily deflated by another Euro-idea. I picked up a leaflet in Brussels today extolling the ” European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations”. It’s worth looking at that phrase again…go back and slowly digest every word and add your own interpretation.
“Older people are a large and growing part of the EU’s population. This rapidly ageing population is changing our societies in important and fundamental ways. Unfortunately, ageing is often seen as a problem, presenting challenges to the age structure of the workplace, the sustainability of social protection schemes and the organisation and financing of health and long-term care services”
Well they got that right. In Spain the government ends free prescriptions for pensioners; in many countries pensions are frozen or cut as part of the “we are all in this together” austerity measures required by the neo-cons and Germans (for different reasons but same effect). The UK changes a tax benefit,, the granny tax. The pension age is increased so we need to work longer, normally for lower benefits whilst the younger generation campaign for the older workers to leave the workforce in order for jobs to become available to the NEET and 800 euro generations. Discussions centre on how benefits, paid in advance by workers over their working careers, should now be withdrawn. Plans and schemes to attract older people to cultural activities are withdrawn (free transport schemes, educational programmes); care centres closed or privatised.
Governments must have signed up to the idea of the year. Shame no-one told them they were meant to actually do something positive. My best wishes to the hundreds of networks and organisations working in the field, many of them facing budget cuts as part of the “there is no alternative to pain” policies.
Me? I’ll age actively, but slowly.