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Brussels, 30th September 2011

Digital Agenda: Kroes, Dalli and Geoghegan-Quinn welcome Council endorsement of ageing research joint programme

The agreement to launch the Joint Programming Initiative on 'More Years, Better Lives' at the EU's Council of Ministers on Competitiveness on 30th September has been welcomed by Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research and Innovation and John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. The Council's endorsement followed the adoption of a Commission Recommendation on the initiative in July 2011 (see IP/11/889). The initiative will coordinate research in the field of demographic change and population ageing. Examples of such research include how to retain people in the labour market, how to help older people remain active for as long as possible, in good health and with a better quality of life and how to make Europe's future care systems sustainable.

Neelie Kroes said: "This initiative will help us to find solutions to the challenges Europe faces as its population grows older and to turn them into new opportunities".

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Europe must work together in order to tackle challenges like its ageing population. The decision today means that we can better coordinate research that will improve people's lives."

John Dalli said: "By working together, we can better help older people live more healthy and independent lives".

Under the terms of the Council Conclusions on the Joint Programming Initiative "More years, better lives, the challenges and opportunities of demographic change", Member States recommend that the following actions could be considered, subject to the needs identified by participating Member States in the Strategic Research Agenda, as part of an implementation plan:

  • analysing the state of the art in this field and identifying and exchanging information on relevant national programmes and research activities and similar international activities

  • reinforcing joint foresight exercises and technology assessment capacities

  • exchanging information, resources, best practices, methodologies and guidelines

  • identifying areas or research activities that would benefit from joint coordination or joint calls for proposals or mobilisation of resources

  • defining the modalities for research to be undertaken jointly in the areas referred to above, and identifying the most appropriate instruments for implementation

  • where appropriate, sharing and ensuring access to existing research infrastructures or developing new facilities

  • encouraging better collaboration between the public and private sectors, together with open innovation between different research activities and business sectors

  • considering the changing needs of elderly people as well as the needs of their wider social networks, when defining the objectives for ageing research programmes

  • exporting and disseminating knowledge, innovation and interdisciplinary methodological approaches

  • creating networks between centres dedicated to demographic change and population ageing research.

The Joint Programming Initiative will develop its common strategic research agenda on the ageing population over the coming months with the assistance of prominent experts. This agenda will then be implemented through joint actions and projects involving a substantial commitment of funding and participation from involved countries.

The European Commission will provide financial support for the coordination of the initiative; which is expected to start delivering concrete results after 2012, such as science based recommendations for adapting pension systems based not only on age, as is currently the case, but on people's capacity to work.

An example of innovative policy making comes from Denmark, where the Finance Ministry has established a €400 million fund to accelerate innovation in care driven by the public sector to create new markets while solving societal problems.

124 million EU citizens will be more than 65 years old in 2030, 42% more than today. The continuing increases in life expectancy represent a major achievement, but it also risks putting an additional strain on the economy, society and sustainability of public finances. The Joint Programming Initiative brings the most prominent scientists in economics, social sciences, health and technology together with representatives from industry and policy making and user organisations in order to help develop better knowledge on the impact of ageing. It is the first time that multidisciplinary research on the ageing population has been put on the EU agenda.

The initiative will provide a major contribution to the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing (see IP/10/1288) and the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). It complements ageing related research activities in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme (see IP/10/1726) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.

The initiative is lead by the German Ministry for research and education and 13 countries have committed to participate so far (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK). Three countries have observer status (Belgium, Ireland and Norway). The Commission is a member of the general Assembly but has no voting rights as this is an initiative led by the Member States.

More Years, Better Lives website:

Joint Programming Initiatives website:

Digital Agenda website:

Neelie Kroes' website:

Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter:

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn's website:

John Dalli's website:

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