Speech at the European Parliament: Healthy Ageing - A European Priority: The Dutch Perspective
"It is our duty and also my personal challenge to create a critical
mass of research and innovation at an EU level developing new and key enabling
technologies which will support healthy ageing."
European Parliament, Brussels, 15 April 2010
"Ladies and gentlemen,
at the outset I would like to thank Judith Merkies MEP and the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres for inviting me here this morning to give the opening address at this conference.
I can assure you that as the European Commissioner with responsibility for Research, Innovation and Science that I do support the implementation of policies at an EU level which support healthy ageing in our society. Ageing research is an area of great social, political and economic importance for the European Union.
But you will all agree with me that the European Union faces a crucial moment of change. The recent economic crisis has eroded years of growth and social progress and structural weaknesses in our economy have become visible. At the same time, the world is moving at a rapid pace and the challenges that we are facing in our society are both increasing and intensifying all the time.
We are facing a real choice. Either we foster recovery and confront societal challenges or we stick to slow and uncoordinated responses and end up with deeper economic and social problems.
The way forward.
I want to re-focus research and innovation policies very clearly on developing a coherent strategic research agenda which will tackle the grand societal challenges, which include both the promotion of healthy living and healthy ageing.
Ladies and Gentleman, an ageing population is one of the highest achievements of humankind. But an ageing population also poses major economic, budgetary and societal challenges.
The number of people aged over 60 is increasing by about two million every year. For the first time in our history, the vast majority of Europe's citizens are able to lead active, healthy and participative lives well into old age. At the same time, ageing societies bring new opportunities to innovative companies through the demand for new or adapted goods and services.