Commission, Parliament and Council meet philosophical and non-confessional organisations to discuss solidarity between generations across Europe

Brussels, 29-11-2012 — / — European Commission President José Manuel Barroso today hosted a meeting with representatives from philosophical and non-confessional organisations in the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels, under the motto “Intergenerational solidarity: setting the parameters for tomorrow’s society in Europe”. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Vice-President of the European Parliament László Surján co-chaired the meeting. The European leaders and the representatives exchanged views on how to strengthen solidarity between generations and to foster an active-ageing culture in Europe, all against the backdrop of important demographic challenges and a growing need for social innovation.

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said: “Europe is built on solidarity, but this solidarity is challenged in the crisis. When people suffer, the temptation is big to follow populist ideas and turn the European Union into a scapegoat. In reality, the EU is the only framework where both solidarity and the necessary reforms can be brought together for the common European good. We therefore should spare no effort to work hand in hand and restore solidarity between nations, between states and within states, between the rich and the poor, the old and the young. Today’s meeting is an important contribution to this aim and I am encouraged by the commitment shown by all participants.”

Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, stated: “I have put the accent this morning on European identity, on Europe, for who the most essential value is the respect for each and every person, a respect resulting in equal rights for everyone, non-discrimination in all its forms, as well as solidarity and brotherhood. Today, thanks to the value we attach to each person, we are able to build a European Union that is founded on more solidarity, also between young and old.”

László Surján, Vice-President of the European Parliament, said: “In the European Parliament, we believe that intergenerational solidarity has helped citizens survive the recent crisis. Further, intergenerational solidarity is of paramount importance for the whole of society for other reasons – just to mention pension systems or the transfer of knowledge and experience from one generation to other.”

During the meeting, the participants acknowledged the role that philosophical and non-confessional organisations play in promoting values like freedom, equal rights and solidarity in Europe and beyond. They agreed on the need to address the challenges of demographic change, like fighting discrimination, creating better job opportunities for people of all ages, or fostering life-long learning. These endeavours directly feed into the European Commission’s overall growth strategy for Europe, by striving for better education, less poverty, and a fairer society.


2012 marks the ‘European Year for active ageing and solidarity between generations‘. The Year has mobilised a wide range of stakeholders and showcased new initiatives to promote active ageing and strengthen solidarity between generations, thus contributing to the Commission’s Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Today’s meeting also fits in this strategy.

High-level meetings between European institutions and philosophical and non-confessional organisations, as well as with churches and religious associations or communities, have become a solid tradition. Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, the dialogue with churches and communities of conviction is a legal obligation, enshrined in primary law (Art. 17 TFEU). The dialogue is regarded by the EU institutions as an important instrument of participatory democracy. Beyond the high-level meetings with religious leaders and with philosophical and non-confessional representatives there are regular dialogue seminars with the different interlocutors on specific EU policies.

For a list of participants, see MEMO/12/901.

Audio, video and photo material of the event is available on the Audiovisual Services website of the European Commission.

Website of the Dialogue with churches, religious associations and communities and philosophical and non-confessional organisations

Website of José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Contacts : Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen (+32 2 295 30 70) Jens Mester (+32 2 296 39 73) Dirk Volckaerts (+32 2 299 39 44)



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