Communication from the General Secretary

Dear Colleagues, 

I hope you are all well. Before the summer We were locked in our homes to try to stop the contagion of this terrible virus that was causing high mortality in Europe and the world, especially among the elderly and especially among those living in nursing homes.  

In the months leading up to the summer, the pandemic affected European countries unevenly. This gave rise to a debate within the Union on the measures to be taken to contain the spread of the contagion. Some countries argued that the ‘lockdown’ was too drastic a measure, which would have affected the European economy and individual countries too severely. 

However, most of us were convinced that in order to overcome the pandemic, it was necessary to respect the rules issued by individual countries. We faced the period of closure with such determination and solidarity that we hoped that what was happening would not be repeated.  

However, what we hoped for did not happen: we are experiencing the second wave, the virus is spreading all over the world and is also strongly affecting those countries that had doubts about the lockdown in the spring, demonstrating that to defeat the virus we need a united Europe with solidarity.  

Now more than ever we must not let our guard down. So I invite you to live your days with caution and attention, to continue to face this period with determination and solidarity, leaving no room for resignation or anger, which is what is happening in many countries. 

Given the economic resources made available by the European Union, we must continue to demand strong investment in public health and services, long-term care, home care, in order to have efficient and quality services, support and care for all citizens, especially the most vulnerable such as the elderly. It is also necessary to secure and reform social and health care residential facilities for the elderly.  

We must also reject proposals for forced confinement of older people at home or in nursing homes as a measure to prevent the risk of contagion, as older people have the same rights as other citizens and should therefore be protected with all the care they need. Moreover, forced confinement would not only exacerbate the sense of loneliness that already exists among older people living alone, but it would also increase the risk of falling ill with other diseases, without the possibility of receiving appropriate care.  

Care must also be taken to ensure that the severe economic damage that the pandemic is causing does not affect older people and their pensions. We must reject any attempt to reduce social and welfare spending.  

In November , after the technical problems of connection and translation have been solved, after 11 months we will be able to meet again, even if only virtually. It will be an opportunity to exchange our experiences over the last few months; to try to define a path that can strengthen Ferpa role; to develop targeted demands towards the European institutions that can be useful to individual organisations.  

Dear colleagues, we hope that this ugly and long period will soon be over so that we can see each other in person, because in our work as trade union leaders, personal relationships are an indispensable factor. 

Jessica, Henri and I send you a big hug. 

Agostino SICILIANO 

General Secretary