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Active ageing: closing ceremony of European Year 2012 looks to the future

10/12/2012

The European Year 2012 has mobilised a wide range of stakeholders across Europe to take action with the aim of creating better opportunities for active ageing and strengthening solidarity between generations.

It has given rise to hundreds of new initiatives and events at European, national, regional or local level dealing with employment, social participation and independent living of older people, many of which will be of long-term benefit. A review of these activities is taking place at the closing event of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 in Nicosia (Cyprus) on 10th December.

In addition, the EU Member States have developed together with the Commission the "Guiding Principles for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations" which were endorsed by the EU's Council of Ministers on 6 December 2012. The Guiding Principles are addressed to Member States, regions and cities, companies and other relevant organisations which have a role to play in further improving the conditions for active ageing over the coming years.

Commissioner Andor said in his opening address: "The Year has given us a fresh perspective on the ageing of the population. Once we saw the growing numbers of older people as a problem. Today we have started to recognise them as part of the solution — if they can achieve their potential and we can take advantage of it. We need to continue investing in our human capital — our greatest asset. I intend looking at these issues in an ambitious social policy initiative we are calling the social investment package, to be presented early next year."

At the closing conference, a new Active Ageing Index (AAI) was presented for the first time to the public. The AAI was developed in a joint project between the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna. The index will help the EU Member States to identify challenges and unrealised potentials and to monitor progress in the area of active ageing.

Many Member States used the political momentum created by the European Year 2012 for launching important policy initiatives. These are examples of some of these initiatives:

  • Austria presented a Federal Plan for Senior Citizens in January 2012. It describes recent developments and main challenges in different policy areas which are important for the quality of life of older people. It also presents a set of recommendations aiming to enable older people to ensure their active involvement and participation in all spheres of life.
  • Ireland has decided that every local authority area in Ireland will have its own Age-Friendly County Programme by the end of 2013.
  • Germany ran an awareness campaign. The German Anti-discrimination Agency has declared 2012 the Year Against Age Discrimination.
  • Poland adopted in August 2012 a Government Programme for Senior Citizens Social Activity” for the years 2012-2013. The aim of this comprehensive programme is to improve the quality of life of older people through social activity and allow Polish society to benefit from the potential of the elderly.
  • Belgium has established in November 2012 a new federal advisory council for the elderly. It can issue opinions to the government in areas such as pensions, equal opportunities, social integration and health care. The government has to reply within a period of three months.

Twitter coverage with hashtag #EY2012

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