A quarter of a century of active senior citizenship: we are grateful & celebrate

A quarter of a century of active senior citizenship: we are grateful & celebrate

25th anniversary of the ESU – ESU-Madrid-Congress 23-25 September 2021

The 25th anniversary of the ESU was celebrated in Madrid on 23-25september. Together with this celebration an associated Extraordinary Congress was organised and also a section of the event was reserved to focus on EU’s priorities and the role of seniors. This 3-part event had a festive component in which prominent speakers came to express their wishes to the ESU. We gladly give you an overview of this part. 

The ESU-Madrid Congress was a celebration that served as a sharpening of our focus on the future. In 1995 the first ESU-Congress took place in Madrid. ESU vice-president Carmen Quintanilla was proud to welcome the participants again in the Spanish capital after a quarter of a century of tumultuous European developments and intensive seniors’ involvement in political decision-making.

ESU President An Hermans stated: “The founders of the ESU created the association as a platform for exchanges and empowering senior citizens all over Europe.

They were convinced that every person has the right to live and work in dignity and to participate in society for a better tomorrow, based on the fundamental values and basic pillars of Europe: respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law, social market economy, solidarity and overall human-centered policymaking, without ever taking these values for granted. 

They  were inspired by the Christen-democratic vision of society and felt called to commit themselves to its realization. We share that inspiration and it is our inspiration and mission to this day. And tomorrow. Tapping our talents and sharing our talents and… ‘being the guardians of ethics in politics and in all social acting’ EPP party president Donald Tusk used to say”

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ESU, we did not write a history book, we did not make a presentation full of memories, but we had a retrospective through integrated reflections on the development of our association, the thoughts behind the ESU and the ambitious future prospects of our association and of Europe! 

As a result, this celebration was marked by many diverse, celebratory meetings with the ESU founders but also with leading figures within the EU of today. Forward-looking ideas of our association were at the center of the audience’s attention.    

Participation: the key ambition

Although there is no universal UN convention on the rights of seniors, there can be no doubt about the importance of respecting the human rights of seniors and recognizing the important role that international organizations can play as a driving force for the development and implementation of action plans on healthy aging. In the second half of the 20th century, it was clear: older people do not see themselves as old, dependent, helpless, but as active, independent individuals with the ambition to participate in all areas of society, including politics. Older persons bring their experiences and hopes into politics and must be respected for it. 

As a result of this trend, in the last quarter of the 20th century, many senior associations were founded or existing senior associations adapted more forward-looking goals and activities in their strategies.

In this new dynamic, the ESU was also founded. We were happy that in the ESU-Madrid-Congress we could offer the audience some testimonies of leading persons from ‘the first years’: Elisabeth Dispaux-Cornil, Bernhard Worms & Leif Hallberg shared their story about the ESU history via a video message

We had the honor of welcoming some high-level speakers from the socio-political world. ESU Vice President Carmen Quintanilla was proud to host them:  

  • Mr. Pablo Casado, President of the Partido Popular;
  • Mr. Borja Fanjul,  City Councillor of Madrid speaking for José Luis Martínez Almeida, Mayor of Madrid; 
  • Mr. Wilhelm Hofmeister, Director Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Spain and Portugal;
  • Mr. Antonio López-Istúriz, MEP and Secretary-General of the EPP.

These congratulated the ESU members with a colorful collection of speeches. Each of them presented an analysis of political trends and problems in their field of expertise being: Spain (Pablo Cassado), at the community level (Bonja Fanjul), in geopolitical relations (Wilhelm Hofmeister), as well as in reassuring trust between citizens and policy makers (Antonio López-Istúriz). 

“Honoured to speak at the XXV Anniversary of the European Seniors’ Union. Seniors play a key role in society and should be recognised as such. They are a source of knowledge, experience, will and dynamism. At the European People’s Party we work to create new opportunities for intergenerational solidarity.” – Antonio López-Istúriz stated.

More congratulations were shared, including via video message by EPP President Donald Tusk, EU President Emeritus Herman Van Rompuy, EPP Group Chairman in the European Parliament Manfred Weber.  Also highly appreciated were the short messages of speakers from previous video conferences including Patrick Pennincks, Tomi Huhtanen & Sophie Michaelides. We are also grateful for the many words of sympathy we received around and during the conference. These were warm words and support such as from the President Mr. Averof Neofytou of DISY, Democratic Rally party, Prof. Dr. Otto Wulff, President of the Seniors Union of the CDU Germany. 

Special attention was given to our young fellow President, Former EDS President Carlo Giacomo Angrisano who urged cooperation between generations. We were pleased with this statement and see it as an invitation to further cooperation. 

With this festive part of the congress program, ESU confirmed its role as an active association of civil society. It was a grateful retrospect together with all those who created and walked the path of European cooperation and participation in democracy and policy-making, fighting together for “a better future” in which no one is left behind. 


Events in 2021

Our ESU was welcomed in Cyprus


the ESU president and secretary general were invited to cyprus for talks on the occasion of the UNIDOP, digitalisation and much more

1st October: United Nations International Day of Older Persons: ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’


A message from our president on the occasion of the 1st of October: United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP): ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’

ESU Extraordinary Congress


Amendments to the ESU Statutes and Rules of Procedure.

‘Building the future together’


Seniors focussing on EU's political priorities: ESU-Madrid-Congress 23-25 September 2021

Online meeting Executive Committee about the upcoming ESU-Congress in Madrid


Online meeting Executive Committee about the upcoming ESU-Congress in Madrid

Some inspiring echoes from our member organisations of the past year


Overview of the Country Reports at the Executive Committee on 3 July at our Summer Academy

2021 Summer Academy


Online edition of ESU Summer Academy presenting most recent information about EU policies relating to the EU challenges for the future and to age & ageing

A European Health Union in the making? - Ensuring EU solidarity for a better healthcare for all

Video Conference

ESU-video Conference 20 April 2021, 11h00-12h30

Launch of the 2020 Annual Report


For ESU too, 2020 was an unforeseen year, our annual report gives an overview of how we learned from this abnormal year and tried to overcome the obstacles.

Older persons and digital inclusion in today’s information society



The era of digitalization: from communication highways to disinformation and infodemic. Opportunities and potential risks

Video Conference

ESU Video Conference 23 March

Europe’s future: demographic challenges and opportunities for a strong recovery

Video Conference

Videomeeting with Mrs Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography.

Drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, to cope with future challenges for people and for the EU

Video Conference

The ESU organized its first video conference of 2021, with interesting speakers such as: Herman Van Rompuy, Hardy Ostry & Rolf Berend on a post COVID-19 Europe.