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EU wants to steer innovation on Active and Healthy Ageing
The number of Europeans aged 65+ is expected to increase by 45% between 2008 and 2030, and even further to over 30% of the population by 2060.
This major challenge needs to be tackled at EU level to help older Europeans enjoy an active and healthy life.
Meeting in Brussels for the first time this week, an EU-led Steering Group discussed how to improve the health and quality of life of older people, increase sustainability of healthcare systems and create new growth and market opportunities for Europe.
This high level Steering Group is jointly chaired by Vice President Neelie Kroes and Commissioner John Dalli and includes Member States, regions, industry, health- and social care professionals, elderly and patient organisations and other interest groups.
The strategy will form an integral part of Europe 2020's Innovation Union and Digital Agenda flagships.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said: "Ageing is an opportunity not a burden. The generation who built Europe deserves to benefit from the technological progress that it has made possible. I am especially convinced that digital technologies have much to offer for a better life for elderly people and their families and carers. A longer and healthier life means the chance to keep playing an active role in society, helping to shape and influence the choices for a future better Europe for all generations. We need to play an active role in making innovation a success for ageing well. "
John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said: "With this Partnership we are treading new ground. Active and healthy ageing is the very first topic which has been chosen as a priority in a European Innovation Partnership. I believe that this is a very important political signal. Active and healthy ageing is central for our citizens. Our common objective is to raise the average number of healthy life years by 2 by the year 2020."
This first Steering Group meeting was facilitated by David Byrne, a former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. It is the first time that in Europe all the stakeholders are joining forces at this scale to commit advancing innovation in active and healthy ageing.
In future meetings, the steering group should look at how to use innovation to improve quality of care, cost-efficiency, and economic opportunities, pursing thereby a triple win. The group should also assess how the existing policies, instruments and programmes can better contribute to tackling the barriers in this area. Challenges and opportunities
The number of Europeans aged 65+ is expected to grow by 45% by 2030, thanks to better health and increased life expectancy. Although a major achievement, this demographic shift could put a significant strain on the economy, society and the sustainability of public finances.
Public and private healthcare spending in the EU already stands at 8.3% of GDP (2008 figures) and by 2030, age-related public expenditure is expected to increase by 2.7% of GDP. The EU is poised to transform this challenge into an opportunity, for delivering better quality of care for elderly, ensuring the sustainability of European care systems and unlocking the innovation potential from Europe's industry.
A central aim of the Innovation partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing is to use European public and private funds spent on research and innovation more efficiently. The results should directly benefit patients and citizens.
The Partnership will also identify and remove barriers to the use of life improving and life saving technologies. It will connect research and innovation, from the lab to the citizen. The partnership aims to speed up and scale up the uptake of innovation, including information & communication technology (ICT) based solutions.
The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing is part of the EU's Innovation Union Strategy, one of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives, to turn ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress.
The Innovation Union has a three-fold goal:
1) to make Europe into a world-class science performer;
2) to revolutionise the way public and private sectors work together, notably through Innovation Partnerships, and
3) to remove bottlenecks – like expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard setting and skill shortages - that currently prevent ideas getting quickly to market.
The Digital Agenda for Europe foresees concrete support for this European Innovation Partnership through its actions to harness the potential of ICT to boost prosperity and improve people's quality of life. The Digital Agenda seeks inter alia to ensure that ICT allows a more independence for people who are frail or suffer from chronic conditions and for persons with disabilities.
Similarly, "fostering good health in an ageing Europe" was identified as one of the three main objectives of the EU's Health Strategy "Together for Health".
For more information:
Neelie Kroes website:
John Dalli website: