Strasbourg: historic city and one of the centres of European policy-making

Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region, has an iconic story for anyone involved in European politics. Sometimes in the background but sometimes very close.

From 16 to 19 November, members of the ESU Presidium were able to discover this in a unique way. We could discover the city’s history, but also get to know two EU institutions and the Council of Europe. Although there was no session of the European Parliament, we got a clear picture of its functioning.

On 18 November, the ESU Presidency members were invited to participate in the study visit to the Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg. Mr. Patrick Penninckx, Head of the Information Society Department, welcomed the ESU delegation and introduced the institutional architecture of the Council of Europe and its decision-making process.

He paid particular attention to the work of Catherine Lalumiere, Secretary General of the Council of Europe from 1989 to 1994, who opened the door to the 11 new member states from the Easter European Countries. Speaking about the added value of the COE, Mr. Penninckx underlined the triangular methodology of the organization. First, the organization that is assisting its member states in the form of Projects and Programmes; Second, it sets standards, e.g., recommendations and conventions; third, it exercises the monitoring function by launching special surveys and mechanisms.

The exchange further continued with Ms. Ellen Penninckx, lawyer of the European Court of Human Rights, who explained the role of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or ECtHR) in monitoring respect for human and civil rights and freedom. It was argued that since its establishment in 1959, the role of the ECHR has evolved significantly and proved to be the most influential international human rights court in the world. It was noted that currently the European Union is negotiating its accession to the ECHR. Essentially, the EU’s accession to the ECHR will mean that the EU is subjected to the same rules and the same system of international oversight on human rights as its 27 member states and the 20 other Council of Europe members.

The agenda further included a conversation with Mrs. Patricia ÖTVÖS, adviser of the European Commissioner for Human Rights, who spoke about the role of the Commissioner for Human Rights. The post was established at the Conference of the Heads of state in Strasbourg in 1999, which gave new impetus to human rights protection. At present, Dunja Mijatović was elected Commissioner for Human Rights in January 2018 by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and took up her position on 1 April 2018. She is the fourth Commissioner, succeeding Nils Muižnieks (2012-2018), Thomas Hammarberg (2006-2012) and Alvaro Gil-Robles (1999-2006).

The meeting continued with a fruitful discussion with Mr. Shahin Abbasov, Programme Manager, Cooperation on Freedom of Expression Division, who elaborated on the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine on the work of the Council of Europe. It was mentioned that on 16 March 2022, the Committee of Ministers decided under Article 8 that the Russian Federation would cease to be a member of the Council of Europe forthwith due to its illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. As a result, the Russian Federation will no longer participate in the work of the Steering Committee for Human Rights or any of its subordinate bodies.

Finally, with Ms. Artemiza Chisca, Head of the Media and Internet Division, the members of the Presidency reflected on the work of the Council of Europe on freedom of expression and information in the digital age. It was highlighted that the right to freedom of expression and information constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. Ms. Chisca pointed out that the Media and Internet division of the Council of Europe is a reference point within the broad area of the work accomplished by different Council of Europe bodies. The division also ensures the work of the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society.

The speakers extensively referred to the significance of publication of the ESU President Ms. An Hermans Digital Era, Also my Era! The representatives of the Council of Europe welcomed the activities of the ESU and and expressed its readiness to further follow up the study visit in view of considering an active collaboration with the ESU for the promotion of the rights of older persons in the EU member states and beyond.

Dr Teona Lavrelash presented her presentation on “The EU and its Eastern Neighbourhood Policy: achievements, challenges and prospects” to our members. This presentation was warmly received by our Presidium members and can be found here.


Events in 2022

Message from our President on the occasion of Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2022


In view of the upcoming Global Media and Information Literacy Week, we invite you to highlight the importance of media and information literacy.

International conference to commemorate the 40th anniversary of AFAMMER

Ciudad Real - Madrid - Spain

ESU President An Hermans and Secretary-General Guido Dumon participated in the commemoration of 40 years of AFAMMER

Letter of ESU President An Hermans on the United Nations International Day of Older Persons


On the 1 October 2022 we celebrate worldwide the United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP).

“Senior citizens in contemporary Europe, issues and challenges”


From 23 until 25 september we co-organized the International European Educational and Scientific Conference on health care, social care, and new technologies fo

The European house must be built in solidarity


On 14th of September the ESU participated in an event organized at the occasion of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council.

Summer Academy 2022: “Generations master the future of a changing Europe together”

Politische Akademie, 1120 Vienna

After three years, nearly 60 people from all over Europe met at the Politische Akademie in Vienna for the ESU Summer Academy.

The digital Era? Also my era! Media and Information Literacy: a key to ensure seniors’ rights to participate in the digital era


An Hermans was invited by the Council of Europe to compile an informative brochure on the subject of digital literacy within the senior generation.

‘What does the Green Deal mean for our way of life?’ - ESU & CDA Side Event


This side-event concerning ‘What does the Green Deal mean for our way of life?’ during EPP Congress in Rotterdam

EPP Congress Rotterdam: 31 May - 1 June


ESU intervention at the Congress and Election of Manfred Weber as EPP President and EPP leadership

ESU Northern and Baltic Countries Regional Conference: Life with Covid-19


ESU Northern and Baltic Countries Regional Conference took place from 19-21 May; the central theme was: 'Life with Covid-19; new tasks & challenges for seniors.

Solidarity with Ukraine


In early April, Volodymyr Dzobak contacted ESU President An Hermans. The interest grew to get to know Mr. Dzobak and his organization better.

29 April: European Day of Solidarity between generations


ESU takes part every year in this awareness-raising campaign in order to draw attention to the concept of intergenerational solidarity and cooperation.

17.03.2022 ESU Video meeting on “War, tensions and threats at European borders"


On 17 March we had our video conference on ‘War, tensions and threats at the European borders - How can the EU react? / What can citizens expect?”