a) The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Article 25 of the Charter recognises and respects the rights of the elderly to a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life. Article 26 of the Charter recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community. Article 34 affirms respect for the entitlement to social security benefits and social services providing protection, inter alia in cases such as illness, dependency or old age, in accordance with the rules laid down by Union law and national laws and practices.
b) The legislative powers and their limits
According to Article 153(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Union is empowered to adopt measures which support and complement the activities of the Member States in the fields of social security and social protection of workers, combatting social exclusion and modernisation of social protection systems.
Article 153(4) provides that provisions adopted pursuant to Article 153 TFEU shall not affect the right of Member States to define the fundamental principles of their social security system and must not significantly affect the financial equilibrium thereof.
c) Existing measures
Council Recommendation 92/442/EEC on the convergence of social protection objectives and policies(129) calls on Member States to take appropriate measures in social security having regard to the specific needs of the elderly where they are dependent on outside care and services. Commission Recommendation 2008/867/EC on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market(130) recommends that Member States should provide such services, which are essential to supporting active and economic inclusion policies, including long-term care services.
Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the coordination of social security schemes(131) covers, inter alia, access to long-term care benefits for mobile citizens.
The European Structural and Investment Funds provide funds to Member States for co-financing investments in social services and health care, which reinforce the shift from a hospital- and institution-centred model to community-based care and integrated services. Funds also support the development of long-term care services through the training of formal carers.
(129) Council Recommendation 92/442/EEC of 27 July 1992 on the convergence of social protection objectives and policies OJ L 245, 26.8.1992, p. 49.
(130) The Commission Recommendation (2008/867/EC) on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market, OJ L 307, 18.11.2008, p.11-14.
(131) Regulation 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of social security systems, OJ l 166, 30.04.2004, p. 1.