Our capacity building seminar entitled “Tackling Age Discrimination against Older Persons: Building Bridges between Equality Bodies & Older Persons’ Organisations”, co-organized with AGE Platform Europe, took place in Berlin on 27-28 June. We are thankful to all participants, members and others, speakers and particularly to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency for hosting this fruitful, engaging event.
Discrimination on the ground of age, as reflected through the experience of equality bodies, is a pervasive and deeply detrimental phenomenon in European societies, relegating older people to a position of marginalization and disadvantage in society. For instance, the 2015 Eurobarometer reports that being 55 years old or older is perceived as the most significant barrier in access to employment, with over half of respondents (56 %) saying it is likely to lead to disadvantage. In addition, the experience of the equality bodies suggest that stereotyping of older people, negative value judgements of age and ageing, ageist attitudes, prejudice and a sense that age itself might be a valid justification for discrimination are all prevalent across the Member States. The equality bodies are clear that it is these phenomena that enable and even serve to justify discrimination experienced by older people.
Nevertheless, discrimination on the ground of age might be seen and portrayed as a ‘less severe’ form of discrimination when compared to, for example, racial discrimination. Its relative invisibility and its image as a relatively ‘light’ form of discrimination is reflected accordingly in the EU legislation. Thus legislation prohibiting discrimination beyond the labour market on the ground of age has yet to be enacted. However, many Member States have gone beyond the requirements of the European Union equal treatment Directives in establishing equality bodies whose mandates include an age ground and in enacting equal treatment legislation that prohibits discrimination on the age ground both in employment and beyond in the provision of goods and services.