Social Europe and Well-Being

Coalition for Health, Ethics and Society (CHES)


Presidencies talking: Health Council Briefing and the next steps towards active healthy ageing

7 June 2011


László Bencze, Health Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU, said that one of the key themes of the Hungarian presidency's health meetings in the last six months had been the modernisation and sustainability of health systems. Investing in health care must be seen as delivering long-term benefits for society by easing the burden on social systems. The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meeting on 6 June produced draft conclusions on the issue and has invited Member States to cooperate in a "reflection process" to exchange experiences and best practice on health care.

These efforts are closely connected to the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, which aims to increase Europeans’ healthy life years, ease the burden on health and social services and boost innovation in Europe.

Janusz Gałęziak, in charge of employment and social issues at the Permanent Representation of Poland to the EU, said his country, taking over the EU Presidency from Hungary, would take on the task of promoting healthy and active ageing in the context of employment, social policy and equal opportunities.  In the next 20 years the EU population of over-65s would grow by 45%, from 85 million in 2008 to a projected 123 million in 2013 and beyond. Inevitably this would have a major impact on the economy, and the organisation of society, on financial systems, the service sector, education, and on "life in general".

Without a change in attitude towards this development, social service, health and financial systems were in danger of collapsing. The ageing society was not necessarily a "catastrophic disaster scenario", it could be an opportunity not only to create new jobs but to develop new products and services geared to the ageing society, while developing different kinds of social and employment models. Active lifestyles, at all ages, were a precondition for social cohesion, requiring solidarity between generations.

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