We All We All are EuropeParticipation of Older,and other Active European CitizensGreen PaperLessons learnt andrecommendations to political decision makers and funding bodiesresulting from the completed AESAEC projectAESAECA c t i v e E u r o p e a nS e n i o r s f o r A c t i v eE u r o p e a n C i t i z e n s h i p
The AESAEC project (Project No 141757-2008-LLP-AT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP) has been funded by the EuropeanCommission, represented by the Education and Culture DG.This publication reflects the views only of the author/project group, and neither the Commission nor the Educationand Culture DG can be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information containedtherein.
Publisher/Editor:Authors:Proof-reading in English:AESAEC Project GroupMichael Schwaiger (Auxilium/AT)Dušana Findeisen (The Slovenian 3 rd Age University/SI)Steffen Hartje (Fritid & Samfund/DK)Jose Antonio Casaucau (Iniciativas Casmors ES)Patrizia Giorio, Bettina Bussi (CO & SO Network/IT)Csilla Lázár (Soros Educational Center Foundation/RO)Irtysh Language Services (UK)Cover design:Printed by:dieGrafikZone, www.dieGrafikZone.atDruckvermittlung.at, www.DruckVermittlung.at© 2010 by AESAEC Project Group, represented by Auxilium Pro Regionibus Europae in Rebus Culturalibus, Geidorfplatz2, A-8010 GrazAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means(including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from thepublisher. For permission or more information please contact email@example.com or any of the organisationslisted at the back of this publication.
Contents1. Introduction to the basic considerations of the AESAEC project 62. Why a Green Paper? … and what is it anyway? 73. Country report Austria 84. Country report Denmark 95. Country report Spain 126. Country report Italy 157. Country report Romania 178. Country report Slovenia 199. Conclusions 21AESAEC – green paper5
1. Introduction to the basic considerations of the AESAEC project(Dušana Findeisen, Slovenian 3 rd Age University, Ljubljana/SI)The AESAEC project focuses on older people being full and active members of local, national andEuropean communities, despite the fact that people in later life are often burdened by socialstereotypes about them, which can lead to them thinking that it is not up to them to intervene inthe community. We firmly believe that senior citizens should and will be involved in important decisionmaking processes that concern themselves and other generations in the community; we furtherbelieve that lifelong learning is important in later life, having a strong impact on both the learnerand the community. Moreover, when learning, education and training take place within Europeanprojects designed by senior citizens themselves, the transformational impact becomes evenstronger.The AESAEC project includes the development of an educational and training programme for oldercitizens enabling them:to change their own, and to some extent also society’s, outdated image of them as being not veryactive and not really participating in the community during old age, thereby freeing themselvesfrom their own negative stereotypesto understand better their own needs and issues and the need for intergenerational bonds, includingsolidarity, co-existence and cooperation between generationsto become familiar with European institutions and European policies relating to older people’sneeds and issuesto devise a European project, after having received relevant education and training, apply for fundingand then hopefully implement the project.Any type and format of education for older people has its specific topic of course. But any type andformat of education in later life is also, simultaneously, education for empowerment. Thereforetrainers, mentors and students engaged in educational programmes are concerned with achieving abetter understanding of what old age in contemporary European society can and should be.There are different ways of how to increase awareness about major social changes and what impactthey have on intergenerational relationships; awareness about older workers and their position,flexibility and security, combating age barriers at work, the right to work and the right to receive apension, active ageing in the broader sense of the word, mandatory or compulsive retirement,structured free time in later life, opportunities to engage and cooperate with other generations,voluntary activities, policies about old age and people in later life, style(s) of life in retirement andold age etc.Therefore, we thought the conceptual framework of the AESAEC training programme should includenot only knowledge about European institutions and policies concerning older people and knowledgeabout how a project proposal is shaped. We felt that students in later life involved in preparing aEuropean project proposal should start by increasing their knowledge about themselves and theirposition in society and also learn more about how they can contribute positively towards the changingface of society.AESAEC – green paper6
2. Why a Green Paper? … and what is it anyway?(Michael Schwaiger, Auxilium, Graz/AT)Promoting Active European Citizenship (AEC) is one of the EU’s greatest challenges in the areas ofeducation, culture, integration as well as political and social life. Therefore, many EU funds arededicated to this subject, or, as Commissioner Jan Figel outlined, “European-level actions […] areindispensable for promoting our common values, a sense of European citizenship and to support anevolving European identity.” (http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/figel/index_en.htm)However, there are many indicators showing that the general attitude towards the concept of theEU ranges from “reserved” to “negative” in many countries as well as within many social groups (asone can see from developments in connection with the Lisbon Treaty). Senior citizens are generallyregarded as being one of the groups most sceptical about the EU! A short survey in the countriesrepresented by this project partnership showed that the main reasons for this are:lack of identification (many of them lived most of their lives before their countryjoined the EU)lack of engagement (many feel the EU was made by others for others)lack of information (they are usually not the main target group of information campaigns)lack of benefits (they think the EU has brought more disadvantages than advantagesfor them)However, Europe simply cannot afford to have senior citizens who are not engaged with AEC! Sincethey are a rapidly growing social group, their behaviour and opinions have great political influenceat all levels. Their opinions and attitudes influence others, e.g. in family learning situations, andthey have significant time and resources that can keep political and social structures working, e.g.through voluntary work.Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to improve how senior citizens are integrated into Europeansociety, which also means ways to simplify their access to public funds. Of course from a legal pointof view senior citizens are not excluded from such funds, however in reality they are highly underrepresentedin almost all EU projects.This has several reasons and senior citizens are quite aware of them, however it seems that thismessage has not yet reached political decision makers and / or the funding bodies. The generalpromotional strategies of the various programmes do not reach enough senior citizens and the generalframeworks at the technical / administrative level are full of “senior barriers”. It needs to be atop-down process at the technical level to change the frameworks and the requirements of some ofthe most important programmes for senior citizens in way that this specific target group can fullyand easily benefit from them. However, it might be a bottom-up learning process for the people responsiblefor these programmes to increase awareness concerning the programmes and how theycan be accessed.The AESAEC project group (www.aesaec.eu) has worked very hard over the last two years to raiseawareness amongst senior citizens all over Europe, in order that it might become a kind of civil societyduty to engage oneself in Active European Citizenship. However, the project group also highlightedthat it must be right for senior citizens to apply in this context for public funds and grants.To improve the ease of access to these grants, we developed a handbook (We All are Europe – Participationof Older, and other European Citizens) in eight languages and implemented pilot trainingcourses in six EU countries. Now, at the end of our project, we wish to summarise our experiencesand results very briefly in this small booklet called a Green Paper. It is dedicated to political decisionmakers and representatives of the EU programmes to encourage them to make funds moreeasily accessible to senior citizens by giving consideration to how funding structures and frameworkscurrently may exclude senior citizens, so that adjustments can be made as soon as possible for thebenefit of senior citizens and, of course, for all people in Europe.AESAEC – green paper7
3. Country report Austria(Michael Schwaiger/Auxilium)3.1. Pre-conditions and frameworks of pilot implementationThe pilots in Austria were implemented between April and June 2010 with six senior learners whovolunteered for this training activity. The learners were aged between 57 and 72, with good levelsof education and general knowledge, were experienced travellers and showed a general interest inthe European Union and Europe. They were very motivated to join the pilot training, on the onehand by their general interest and curiosity in life, and on the other hand because they all had onething in common: all of them were highly engaged as volunteers in active citizenship activities (suchas community and / or charity work).With these pre-conditions (appropriate level of education including IT skills, life experience,motivation for learning, positive attitude towards the learning topic, etc.), this sample was absolutelyperfect to undertake the AESAEC pilot training. However there were two other points whichmade the implementation of the training more difficult:a) Due to all of the participants being very active in their private and social lives, it was extremelydifficult to find dates for the training that were suitable to all! (As a matter of fact we did not expectthis to be a problem at all when planning the schedule for the pilots!)b) Although all participants had a high level of education none of them spoke a foreign languagewell enough to feel confident to use it as a means of communication (especially in writing). Thislanguage barrier was not a problem during the pilots of course, however it became relevant whenwe tried to find potential co-operation partners for the planned project proposals. Here, the seniorsdefined three options:- to select a co-operation partner from another German speaking country / region- to select a co-operation partner from another country / region but with at least one contactperson speaking an appropriate level of German- to select any partner but avoiding the need for direct communication with this partnerIn the end we did manage to overcome the language problem in the proposal we submitted, howeverthis really gave the participants a headache and they felt “excluded” due to the fact thatspeaking foreign languages, particularly English, is such a fundamental requirement when cooperatingat the international level.3.2. Experiences and lessons learntOverall we were very satisfied with the implementation of the training pilots (as were the participantstoo, at least that is what the results of the evaluation activities indicate); the participantswere motivated, reliable and keen to learn about the different issues relating to the AESAEC project.However, there were some important lessons we learnt during the implementation of the pilottraining. The main ones were:- as already mentioned above, it was very difficult to agree on a training schedule suitable toall participants (too many family obligations and other social activities!)- when the participants thought that some of the learning content was not usable or interestingfor them they expressed it promptly and directly – therefore trainers needed to be ableto react quite quickly- there was also “some impatience” when the didactic approaches were not appreciated bythe participants (fortunately most were appreciated)- the participants were not “risk takers” in their learning approaches and tried to avoid “experiments”as much as possible. This meant they felt more comfortable with issues andways of learning which were already familiar to them. Once things became “too new” theylost interest.3.3. Improvements, recommendations and suggestions for political decision makersWhen trying to get more senior citizens to be active in terms of Active European Citizenship it is vitalto justify why they should do so. People of advanced age have enormous life experiences, theyhave fully developed personalities and usually they know quite well what they want and do notAESAEC – green paper8
want. So if senior citizens are already engaged with active citizenship, they might want to knowwhat advantages there are for them in becoming engaged at the European level. In addition if seniorcitizens are not engaged at all with active citizenship it is a huge challenge to motivate them tostart engagement in the first place.One of the main difficulties will be to get more senior citizens involved with EU programmes. Structures,formats, procedures and technical language used are quite good at scaring senior citizens off.Since they usually do not have the need or pressures (unlike in working situations) to becomefamiliar with all of these complex procedures and formats they simply give up trying to understandthem. Additionally, in the pilots they also expressed that they are somehow afraid of dealing withpublic money and getting into a contract situation with an official body. To attract more senior citizensit seems to be imperative to educate them better in EU project management or, as an alternative,to establish “skills centres” where they can benefit from professional advice, guidance andother kinds of support.3.4. Main recommendations to political decision makers to make Active EuropeanCitizenship more attractive for senior citizens and to integrate this target group more successfullyinto funding programmes:Special courses for senior citizens should be established to help them learn which funds arethe most important for them and how one can benefit from the funds.Since it will not be possible for a significant number of senior citizens to become sufficientlytrained in the near future to apply for and manage EU projects on their own, special“skills centres” should be established where they can access professional advice and support;such centres could be located within existing organisations / agencies, however theycould also be set up as specific free-standing service points.It is vital to make the technical procedures of the funds easier to follow (application writing,calculation of budgets, reporting, administration etc.). In particular funds with smalleramounts of money should reduce the technical workload required, otherwise senior citizenswill simply not apply for such funds in significant numbers.It would be desirable if key results and experiences from EU projects dealing with seniorlearning issues, particularly if they focus on educational and pedagogical concepts andstrategies, could exert a greater influence on the planning of frameworks and regulations inrelation to new EU funds. A selection of such projects can be found atwww.aesaec.eu/links.It should also be considered that senior citizens might need some extra support during theproject implementation (interpreters, mobility support etc.); however, this support mustalso be covered by the funds.Generally it might make sense to devise a specific plan of action to address the issue of howto improve the inclusion of senior citizens in EU programmes. This would involve a promotionalstrategy that is tailor-made to this particular target group!Participants of the AESAEC training courses in AustriaAESAEC – green paper9
4. Country report Denmark(Steffen Hartje/Fritid & Samfund)4.1. Pre-conditions and frameworks of pilot implementationFritid and Samfund organised a pilot training course about European Citizenship for elderly peoplein the Municipality of Varde during the period 4 February to 15 June 2010. We were interested ingetting in touch with elderly citizens who were active in voluntary work at the local level, and weknew that in the municipality of Varde there were a large number of people active in the developmentof local democracy. The dialogue between civil society and the politicians in the city halltakes place through nine Development Councils. The members of the Development Councils are alldoing voluntary work, and we wanted elderly members from the councils to participate in the workshop.There were 10 participants from nine Development Councils on the course. They had low tomedium levels of education and their ages ranged from 50 to 72 years. Most of the participantswere pensioners. Before they became pensioners they had been general workers, teachers andfarmers. The staff from Fritid and Samfund organised the course and also took on the roles ofcourse leaders, facilitators and trainers. The other trainers were a development manager from thecity hall and a leader of an institution, called Væksthuset, which deals with voluntary work.One of the outcomes of the course was an application to the Senior Volunteering Programme entitled“Development of local society through exchange of experiences between groups of elderly people.”The project aim is for the exchange of experiences and networking between a Spanish voluntaryorganisation and a Danish one, both working in the field of community development. This isbecause it is a characteristic of voluntary organisations working on local community developmentthat they never or very rarely have any contact with similar organisations in other European countries.It is a problem, because these types of organisations can learn much from each other by creating acommon learning space through visits and virtual networking. Issues such as: How can more peoplebecome involved in voluntary work? What roles can be played by the increasing numbers of elderlypeople undertaking voluntary work? How can voluntary organisations cooperate with governmentdepartments? How can local groups contribute to the development of local democracy?It is also an important goal of the project for members of the two organisations to perceive themselvesincreasingly as being part of a wider European community, and to learn how transnationalcooperation can take place.4.2. Experiences and lessons learntThe training course was an unqualified success. In its evaluation the participants expressed thatthey had learned many things which could be used in their voluntary work, and they were lookingforward to being in contact with people from other European countries involved in voluntary workor the development of local society. They were also very happy that they had learnt how to use newpedagogical methods in relation to elderly people and had received information about the LifelongLearning Programme.We were a little surprised by the huge success of the pilot training, because it can be very difficultto motivate members of the more senior age groups to take part in a course about the European Union,as elderly people in Denmark are generally not very interested in the European Union and Europeanissues. Consequently it was an aim of the course to make a connection between topics whichall participants were interested in, such as voluntary work at the local level in Denmark, andquestions related to the European Union, such as voluntary work at the European level.Our experiences showed that it is important to use the participants’ own experiences in relation tothe workshop topic as a starting point. This is especially important in relation to senior citizens.4.3. Improvements, recommendations and suggestions for political decision makersAESAEC – green paper10
It is a huge problem that an application to the Grundtvig Senior Volunteering Programme is so difficultto write. There is too much paperwork in relation to objectives for the programme, when theaim of a project may be to simply facilitate exchange activities between senior volunteers.The participants were unable to write an application without help because they do not understandmany of the questions on the application form. It is a serious problem if ordinary people cannotmake an application. The Senior Volunteering Programme should not need to focus on the projectwork, but rather should focus on the exchange of elderly volunteers. You will not motivate elderlypeople to make an application when you ask them what they will do in the different project phases,because they do not see senior volunteer exchange as a project but as an opportunity to establishnew dialogue between elderly people across the borders within Europe.4.4. Main recommendations to political decision makers to make Active EuropeanCitizenship more attractive for senior citizens and to integrate this target group more successfullyinto funding programmes:Make it easier for ordinary elderly people to make an application to the Lifelong Learning Programme.The Lifelong Learning Programme should have more focus on people outside of the labourmarket (elderly people, people with special needs etc).Develop the idea of the triangular active citizenship for elderly people. The connection betweenan active citizenship is at three levels: the local, the national / regional and theEuropean Levels, because it is not enough to work as a volunteer only at the local level in aglobalised society.The idea of triangular citizenship should be taken as the basis to strengthen the cohesion ofthe European Union.Participants of the AESAEC training courses in DenmarkAESAEC – green paper11
5. Country report Spain(Jose Antonio Casaucau/Iniciativas Casmors ES)5.1. Pre-conditions and frameworks of pilot implementationThe pilot training course was planned and prepared to be implemented in a rural area or communityin the Autonomous Region of Aragon. Traditionally rural communities have been considered as themost reluctant to face questions relating to the European Union, sovereignty, the Euro, etc. Initiallyit was also proposed to run a parallel pilot session in an urban area in the Madrid Region in order tobalance the different opinions. This session was also designed as a dissemination event involving alarge number of participants, with local authorities and the European Commission Office in Madridalso being invited.The target group was in both cases senior citizens up to sixty years old with experience in local activities,associations or participants in community-based organised groups within local municipalitiesand districts.An initial call for the training sessions was unsuccessful so a second call was made with an incentiveto encourage participants to become involved. Was there any incentive that could be offered to“active seniors”? The answer was given by seniors themselves: cultural trips. So participants in theLeganes dissemination session were offered the chance to participate in the AESAEC final event inBrussels; and participants in the pilot training sessions in Santa Eulalia de Gállego were invited tovisit the regional newspaper Diario de Navarra and the Planetarium in Pamplona. As a result bothevents provided opinions and results both from an urban area and from a rural area.The second question to be addressed was to define correctly the topic of the training course.Interests amongst senior citizens differ greatly and are influenced greatly by their personal situation,for example in relation to their family and economic standing. These conditions, particularlyeconomic ones, result in them having widely differing views towards social and volunteering projects.In addition these conditions also have a great influence on their motivation to participate inprojects, as well as in voluntary, social or cultural activities.Finally, the title selected for the course was “Europe and the citizens. Let’s know more aboutEurope.” This title provided them with an insight into the training and helped them to imagine whatthe content may involve.The participants’ profile was that of people very active in training and travel organised by local authoritiesor associations but who were not really involved in management. Senior citizens involvedin management were on representative boards of associations but were not always particularly experienced.Senior citizens participating as volunteers are usually involved in activities focused towards theirown target group, such as social assistance for older people, trips for senior citizens, learning howto use the internet, cultural training for senior citizens etc. Normally they are not involved in activitieswith young people, women, migrants etc. Local communities promote activities for these variousgroups through civic centres for senior citizens, youth clubs, training for women and migrantsetc.AESAEC pilot training sessions were delivered in 10 morning sessions, as well as debating sessionsand the excursion to Pamplona.A dissemination activity in Leganes was developed as a one day session, including a visit to theEuropean Documentary Centre in the University Juan Carlos in Getafe (very close to Leganes).5.2. Experiences and lessons learntDuring the training, both rural and urban senior citizens were extremely interested in European history,European Institutions and European decision making mechanisms.No differences were detected between the rural and urban groups in their interest or thirst forknowledge about Europe and how it works. However, this interest was not so high after receivingexplanations about how to benefit from funding, which was the case for both groups. The main rea-AESAEC – green paper12
son is that both groups believe that this is a task for public bodies like such as local or regional authorities.Their initial reaction when economic and financial topics were introduced was to refuse toparticipate. This situation was resolved by some exercises in preparing small budgets for easy activities.They were able to solve these but the results demonstrated that they are not familiar with thesystem “ask for and receive” as opposed to more participative methods.Structural frameworks within local authorities for volunteering activities are not very well developed.Only large cities with “significant” initiatives or projects, such as the Olympic Games candidatecities, prepare volunteer structures to support their projects and candidacy. The city ofZaragoza organised for the 2008 Expo a group of volunteers, mostly senior citizens and young people,to help with the organisation. This work was specifically recognised, with the city council seekingto enlarge the volunteer project with other aspects. However, small cities and councils do nothave the resources to undertake such volunteer projects. Citizenship does not demand such opportunitiesin order to organise people’s spare time or to receive support from the municipalities. Seniorparticipants were no different in this regard.Although the AEC programme aims at the growth of European civil society we found this area to benot very well developed in Spain. Civil society, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), privatefoundations etc. are dependent on government support through local, regional or national fundingstreams. Organisations focused on senior citizens are particularly fragmented and weak and are veryoften linked to local authorities, civic centres or other regional institutions. Their structures arealso very weak and it is very common that many organisations appear to address a specific concretequestion and once the issue or problem has been dealt with or if the main protagonists becometired then these organisations quickly disappear. Only associations or foundations that reach a criticalmass of activities and members have the capacity to survive. However their financial viabilitycontinues to depend on public funds. Therefore, these organisations have limited autonomy to makeindependent decisions about their own projects and activities due to this dependence on regional orlocal funding. As they have limited funds themselves, this limits their ability to participate in andprovide their own financial contribution towards EU projects.Senior citizens in the pilot training sessions identified their own limits in terms of participating inEU projects: their acute lack of knowledge of foreign languages; health and age limitations; the lackof tradition and experience amongst them of fulfilling management roles; also a psychological barrierwas recognised in that they were afraid to receive approval for their small projects and constantlyasked about what kind of support they could receive from the local authority or from ourown organisation to develop their project.After the sessions the most interesting comment expressed regarding the results of the training wasthat they now had a greater European feeling. Other comments were focused on the excessive andcomplex mechanisms for making decisions.Referring to the duration of the training, senior citizens expressed their interest in “shorter” sessionsfor information and training focussing on how to search for information on the EU website.When they were asked about the possibility of participating in EU projects as promoters or volunteersmost of them rejected the idea of managing a project, whilst 50% accepted the idea of participatingin the conception of projects or supporting their development. A minority were preparedto participate as volunteers in other countries; first barrier: language skills. A large majority wouldbe happy to host foreign volunteers for local or EU projects.5.3. Improvements, recommendations and suggestions for political decision makersAEC concepts such as volunteering and citizenship initiatives are felt as being a bit too much forsenior citizens in Spain. Most senior citizens consider active partnership as a way of participating inactivities during their spare time. These activities are mainly organised by municipalities, districtsand smaller civic associations. They prefer free or low cost activities. Most of them do not feel theneed to organise or participate in the management of such activities. In fact many municipalitieshave started to let senior citizens undertake some self-management activities, such as organisingworkshops, lectures, etc. This level of partnership can start by organising schedules, timetables forAESAEC – green paper13
civic centres, etc. It can then lead to involving senior citizens in designing the next year’s budgetfor their activities (very few municipalities promote this however).Although senior citizens have accepted the idea that many services and activities cannot be developedwithout the invaluable support of volunteers, they are still reluctant to participate in voluntaryactivities. Even if they recognise the many traditional activities related to civil or religious organisationsin which they are involved with, they do not perceive such activities as being of widerEuropean value or as having a common link with senior citizens in other countries. They feel theseactivities are purely a question of their own personal responsibility.Nevertheless, despite their initial refusal, when they received information about the European volunteerprogrammes and projects they changed their minds, warming to the idea that exchanges andmobility are a way of making them better linked with other countries and cultures.The most important concept they have accepted for being an Active European Citizen is the idea ofsearching for information about Europe. Most of them participated in internet training sessions andconsidered the EU’s website as a great resource to become better informed about Europe. Some oftheir opinions suggested that it was the “most useful application” they had recently used on theinternet. Maybe an accessible website for senior citizens in their national languages and withadapted information and briefings on European affairs could be developed within the main EU website.Projects developed for senior citizens contain several problems: foreign language skills, technicalskills and time (because of the age of promoters, participants etc.). Foreign language skills are aparticularly large problem in Spain, so the main answer to this should be decentralised management,so the promoters have a Spanish authority acting as “project officer.” However this issue onlyrelates to management approved projects. There should be a “project forum” translated into Spanishto help them to find project partners in other countries more easily. Additional support withcommunication should be provided for senior citizens to help them to talk and negotiate with othercountries.A new process for project selection should be defined. Firstly national evaluators should select anumber of projects according to the quality criteria defined by the EU. Secondly a project forumshould be created in each country with a project brief in English. National agencies will select severalpartners for the projects which the promoters can either accept or reject. The project officerswill help with this negotiation process. The third stage will see the successful projects being selected.Projects involving senior citizens should include short implementation guidelines and other supportingdocuments, particularly accounting documents, if we want to involve senior citizens in projectmanagement. Deadlines after the end of a project should be different and shorter than in otherprogrammes. Imagine the situation with a project audit seven years after the project has beencompleted. Senior citizens involved in the project are likely not to be in the same state of healthand could struggle to answer technical or financial questions.5.4. Main recommendations to political decision makers to make Active EuropeanCitizenship more attractive for senior citizens and to integrate this target group more successfullyinto funding programmes:More supporting staff is needed for senior citizens activities at the EU level (such as translators,project development technicians, etc.)Include information about the EU and its activities in general senior citizen learning activities,such as IT training, learning how to use the internet, foreign language learning etc.Motivate and support local authorities to make project proposals more focused on seniorcitizen activities and to reinforce volunteering.Prepare funding programmes that are specifically focused on organisations for senior citizensor local authoritiesAdapt procedures for short projects and reduce the administrative burden.AESAEC – green paper14
6. Country report Italy(Patrizia Giorio/CO & SO Network)6.1. Pre-conditions and frameworks of pilot implementationWith regard to the AESAEC pilot course organisation, CO and SO held a meeting with some of its associatedpartners in order to understand how best to implement the pilot and in particular how toselect the target group properly. It seemed clear from the project and the curriculum that the targetgroup was older people, but we thought that this was too generic and in any case we needed todecide on a more precise profile of senior citizens (such as level of education, gender split, mobility,language and / or IT skills etc.).We decided together to give this opportunity to a group of senior citizens attending recreational activitiesevery afternoon in a recreational centre. The decision was then what content in relation toAEC would be applied and how it linked with the local community.Most of our 18 students were women and they attended the whole course, one session per week forthree months, being always on time and interested in all of the content. Their level of educationwas low but life had taught them a lot. However, it was important to have regular breaks (every 30minutes), to use large fonts for reading texts and particularly to learn together in very interactiveorientatedtraining sessions.6.2. Experiences and lessons learntThe most difficult task, for the trainers, was the differing educational levels of the participants. Weworked on their informal skills in order to make them feel more confident. The concept of AEC hasbeen well developed starting from the local level and most of the students have experience asvolunteers so it was easy for them to understand the message. However, the lack of languages skillshas been the real problem together with their low degree of IT literacy. As we could not find a realsolution for this we tended to focus on AEC during classroom time.The cultural influence of our country had a significant impact on the lessons, particularly in termsof attending the course, as most of them are responsible for their grandchildren and (perhaps evenmore of a determining factor) the women have never worked formally; but as the course progressedtheir interest and motivation increased to the point whereby the participants started to organisethemselves more and more in order to attend the classes.6.3. Improvements, recommendations and suggestions for political decision makersFirst of all, as Europe’s citizens are getting older and older there should be more funding dedicatedto them but with the inclusion of effective professional support, such as interpreters or managers.For example, the GIVE programme does not include this kind of support and it is quite impossible inItaly to find senior citizens who can manage volunteer activities in another language unless theywere migrants. For example German can be a very useful language. However, a language course fora senior citizen is probably not the right answer and therefore funding to provide interpreters is amuch better solution.In addition, apart from the Volunteer Programme, it would be nice to have a programme to supportsenior citizens during their spare time from a European perspective. The more they are physicallyactive the less Europe will need to pay for their healthcare!6.4. Main recommendations to political decision makers to make Active EuropeanCitizenship more attractive for senior citizens and to integrate this target group more successfullyinto funding programmes:More funding for exchange programmes including interpreting costs!Much more local community work needs to be dedicated to them!AESAEC – green paper15
Creation of a seniors’ network at the European level or improved circulation of news aboutexisting networks.Make use of their working experience in an intergenerational programme!Develop an outline for a programme in the field of education!Participants of the AESAEC training courses in ItalyAESAEC – green paper16
7. Country report Romania(Csilla Lázár/Soros Educational Center Foundation)7.1. Pre-conditions and frameworks of pilot implementationIn January 2010 our organisation announced a pilot course focusing on Active European citizenshipand European projects for senior citizens. The number of expressions of interest exceeded the organiser’sexpectations. 23 persons signed up for the course. Half of the subscribers had previouslyattended IT courses with our organisation, and the others were senior citizens interested in interculturalissues and volunteering. 80% of the course applicants were retired citizens with a highereducation background, including economists, engineers, teachers and doctors. Their main motivationfor participating in the course was their interest in European cultures, and the opportunitiesthat EU programmes could offer them. Some of them have family members working in Europeanadministration (both in our country and abroad) and many of them have family members living andworking in different European countries.Due to the high interest in the course we decided to organise two pilot groups, one with 11 learnersand the other with 12.The course was launched in February 2010. Trainers used the ASEAEC manual and various other resources,such as previous EU project applications and project results, meetings with staff and beneficiariesfrom previous projects and meetings with representatives of local partner organisations activein local and EU community projects.The one and a half hour AESAEC pilot lessons took place each Tuesday and the course ended in June2010.7.2. Experiences and lessons learntOne of the main challenges we experienced from the initial lessons was the language barrier, anobstacle standing in the way of learning about Active European Citizenship and preparing / writingEU project proposals. Even if our target group was formed by highly educated senior citizens, due tothe socio-economic environment within which they were educated and spent most of their professionallife, European languages other than Russian were not widely taught or encouraged. Moreover,as Romania had been more and more isolated from the rest of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s,learning foreign languages and learning about other cultures had not been a priority within theeducation system until the political changes of 1989.It may have also been a similar case in other eastern and central European countries. If we reallywant senior citizens to take part actively in the European process, if we are serious about wantingto help them become more interested in European multiculturalism and if we really desire to promotetheir European citizenship then we must consider lifelong learning actions that promote theirEuropean mobility and that at the same time facilitate them learning other European languages.As we have experienced with our target group, even if they need to make a consistent effort tolearn another European language, which they had never learnt when they were young, with a littlehelp they can quickly overcome language barriers and they will become much more interested inbeing involved in European cooperation projects. Therefore, for this reason we need foreign languagelearning programmes tailored to their needs as well as opportunities to practice what theyhave learnt, such as mobility programmes for senior citizens.If we close our eyes to these barriers, if we do not make an effort to offer this generation thechance to learn other European languages and about different cultures (opportunities they had previouslynever been offered, unlike today’s younger generations, who for instance can benefit fromthe Erasmus and Comenius projects), we will certainly not be able to make them feel like true citizensof Europe.7.3. Improvements, recommendations and suggestions for political decision makersForeign language learning should be considered in all Lifelong Learning Programmes where seniorsare one of the main target groups. Alongside foreign language education, intercultural educationand learning about other European cultures should be high on the list of priorities in projects targetedtowards senior citizens. The mobility of senior citizens should be more intensively promoted.AESAEC – green paper17
there is no reason to stop older adults from doing likewise. Projects developing adult learningstrategies and counselling skills amongst older adults would be welcome. Why should older peoplebe treated as a separate social group? This makes them second class citizens! Funding should beaimed at projects dealing with specific issues related to later life or intergenerational bonds. Fundingshould be available for projects that prepare older people for active counselling roles in localcommunities. And funding should also be available for enabling older people to set up new structuresand activities that can benefit the whole community.8.4. Main recommendations to political decision makers to make Active EuropeanCitizenship more attractive for senior citizens and to integrate this target group more successfullyinto funding programmes:Consider older adults as being older citizens who are willing to learn, to perform paid workor voluntary work, and to work for local, national and European communities.Do not think that older people’s activities, particularly learning, can benefit only their ownwell being. Their learning and their activities transform not only older people themselvesbut also the communities they belong to.In an ageing society, older people are an important segment of the population and are inneed of organisations, structures, and institutions (all types of social capital) where theirhuman capital can be “captured” and enriched both for their own benefit and for the benefitof society.Older people’s learning is no less efficient and necessary than it is for other groups in society,and moreover they are wonderful conveyors of new knowledge, skills and culture toother generations, be they young or old.Make older people think about the future and they will contribute with many good ideas.Older people are “ambassadors of culture” ensuring cultural continuity and also the competitivenessbetween European countries in terms of their cultural differences.Participants of the AESAECtraining courses in SloveniaAESAEC – green paper20
9. Conclusions(Dušana Findeisen/Michael Schwaiger)People in later life do relate to other generations and therefore they should be more extensivelyengaged in shaping the life of communities. Cooperation and solidarity between generations is onlypossible when senior citizens can and are allowed to age actively. Local, national and Europeanpolicies should therefore address people in later life as active people, people with potential and aspeople with a variety of psychosocial needs. Senior citizens who are ready to engage in preparingEuropean project proposals concerning themselves and their peers as well as relationships withother generations are instrumental in countering stereotypes which are contrary to the new imageof active and participating senior citizens. To this end senior citizens preparing a project proposalneed to have an improved understanding of European institutions and their policies relating to oldage, as well as knowledge about European non-governmental organisation (NGO) activities that areconcerned with older people’s issues. Adapting to social changes or preparing for their consequenceswhich affect older people can be both a topic and an aim of European projects.However, the EU programmes need to be more open to the particular requirements and situationsof senior citizens, and they also need to increase their motivation to contribute more actively in thearea of Active European Citizenship. It might be necessary to release tailor-made information andawareness campaigns around this issue - and those who respond should be supported and guided byprofessional experts at all relevant levels. However, in the long term, the objective should be thatmore senior citizens can apply for and manage EU projects on their own. This does of course requirea great deal of learning activities and preparation work for senior citizen; frameworks and materialsto support this are urgently needed to be developed and made accessible. However, it will also benecessary to reduce the technical complexity and administrative workload of the programmes whichare dedicated mainly to senior citizens. This seems to be one of the most necessary actions requiredto avoid the Kafkaesque situation arising whereby those for whom the money has been foreseen areunintentionally excluded from applying for it because the application and implementation proceduresare too complex.The AESAEC project group and senior learners from the pilot courses in thePlenary Conference Room of the European Parliament in Brussels.AESAEC – green paper21
We All are EuropeThe members of the AESAEC project group are responsible for the content:Austria, www.auxilium.co.atDenmark, www.fritid-samfund.dkAustria, www.vhsstmk.atDKSpain, www.asael.esATSIRORomania, www.sec.roESITSpainItaly, www.formazionenet.euSlovenia, www.univerza3.siwww.aesaec.euThe AESAEC project (Project No 1417572008LLPATGRUNDTVIGGMP) has been funded with supportfrom the European Commission, represented by the Education and Culture DG.