EU Year of Active Ageing
Peter Wintlev-Jensen, Deputy Head of Unit, DG INFSO, speaks about the EU’s Year of Active Ageing, 2012
Can you explain a little about the European Year of Active Ageing 2012 and how you see it fitting into the wider AAL JP Programme? The European Year of Active Ageing has been set up to engage with the wider community on the sorts of issues being addressed by the AAL JP. It is an initiative that is driven by the EC and the DGs with the wider policy responsibility for social policies and employment policies. In my view this is an important dimension, to link the technological side with the uptake in society, especially in the workplace and on the social side. The idea with the European Year
of Active Ageing is to launch a wide information campaign to allow actors across Europe to make themselves visible, but also work from the top down level to really put the issue on the agenda. I think it’s good to connect the technological innovation efforts at the Commission level so we can bring together a lot of different policy areas, instead of working, as we were before, in a more fragmented way.
What impact do you hope the year will have on this specific area of helping people to live a more active and happy elderly life? A lot of it is about changing mind-sets because there are a lot of issues around ageing that are negative, like, for example the fact that 80 per cent of employers have the impression that older workers are a liability rather than an asset. This is a real problem because despite the fact that we have high unemployment now, the workforce from this year will be shrinking and in a few years we will have a critical shortage of a lot of different resources. Take Denmark as an example, where in the next five years, 25 per cent of the staff in the care sector will retire. We can’t afford to throw people out of society who still want to continue working and that means we need to change the mind-set, we need to change the employer’s mind-set, we need to change retirement policies and pension policies. I think that’s what the year can help us to achieve.
Does this joint approach to research into things like ageing signal a change at the Commission in terms of how the DGs are working together in terms of innovation?
I think that’s what’s expressed in the Europe 2020 strategy. If Europe wants
to make its future from innovation, we have to apply that across the board – it’s a systemic thing and should not just be made up by individual components. We need to create an environment that is useful for innovation. The big step now is that we deal with innovation not just in the research and innovation DGs but also in the other policy areas and DGs – so that’s the big change.
How does that work in practice?
The example here is the European Innovation Partnership and its focus on Active and Healthy Ageing, which is a joint effort between the health DG, the Health and Consumers Commissioner, John Dalli, and the Commissioner of the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, supported by the research and innovation
AAL Forum 2011
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