European Commission Initiatives and Programmes

New European Commission project on Silver Economy

Exploring the economic opportunities offered by activities and needs of older adults in Europe has become the focus of a new project conducted for the European Commission DG Communications Networks, Content & Technology. The work will provide strategic information and data needed to establish a reference framework for the development of a Silver Economy Strategy for Europe, building on existing regional, national and industrial initiatives across Europe. The study runs until February 2017 with the following objectives:

1.       Estimate the potential size of the European Silver Economy, from now until 2025.

2.       Provide overview of current and planned Silver Economy-related policy initiatives across Europe.

3.       Identify 10 realistic case scenarios that have the highest potential to create jobs and economic growth linked to demographic change.

4.       Develop EU-level policy recommendations focusing on how best to stimulate an emerging Silver Economy in Europe.

The Silver Economy considers the ongoing demographic shift as a major opportunity not only for future economic growth but also as contribution to enhanced quality of life for older people, stimulating social and cultural progress in Europe. The study aims to highlight the changing needs of older customers so that businesses can develop suitable products and services. There may also be a need to lower barriers to developing and scaling up new solutions for older people. We hope that the growth of the Silver Economy will be profitable to businesses as well as connected to a positive and socially inclusive identity for older adults in Europe.

If you are interested in the new Silver Economy study and would like follow it, you can join their LinkedIn group the Smart Silver Economy or visit the project website at or get in touch with the study team by emailing

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

For the challenges in the areas of health, demographic change and wellbeing there is a special investment in better health for all, research and innovation (R&I). It aims to keep older people active and independent for longer and supports the development of new, safer and more effective interventions. R&I under Horizon 2020 also contributes to the sustainability of health and care systems. During the first two years of Horizon 2020 (Work Programme for 2014/15), the EU will invest some €1 200 million in this challenge.

For more information on the Horizon 2020 programme, click here.

Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME)

COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of EUR 2.3 billion.

COSME will support SMEs in the following areas:

  • Improving access to finance
  • Access to markets
  • Supporting Entrepreneurs
  • Improving conditions for competitiveness.

For more information on COSME, please click here.

eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020: Innovative healthcare for the 21st century

The new eHealth Action Plan 2012 - 2020 builds on the 2004 eHealth Action Plan which marked the beginning of closer cooperation between EU Member States in the area of eHealth.The European Commission's eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 provides a roadmap to empower patients and healthcare workers, to link up devices and technologies, and to invest in research towards the personalised medicine of the future. This means providing smarter, safer and patient-centred health services. Given the fast growing uptake of tablets and smartphones, the Action Plan also includes a special focus on mobile health (mHealth) deploying promising solutions for active and healthy ageing at a larger scale.

The eHealth Action Plan's communication can be found here.

Active Ageing Index (AAI)

The aim of this project is to develop an Active Ageing Index (AAI) that will help to measure the untapped potential of senior people across 27 EU Member States and beyond. The index measures the extent to which older people can realise their full potential in terms of employment, participation in social and cultural life and independent living. It also also measures the extent to which the environment they live in enables seniors to lead an active life.The index will allow to measure and monitor active ageing outcomes at the country level with a breakdown by gender.

This Active Ageing Index (AAI) research project is funded by the European Commission's Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and implemented together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the European Centre Vienna.

For more information on the project, please click here.

European Disability Strategy 2010-2020

In 2010, the European Commission adopted the European Disability Strategy identifying eight main areas for action, namely: Accessibility, Social protection, Participation, Equality, Employment, Health, Education and training and External Action. The Strategy provides a framework on how the EU and national governments can empower people with disabilities so they can enjoy their rights. This goal will be achieved through awarness raising, financial support and data collection and monitoring.

For more information on the European Disability Strategy please click here.

Digital Agenda for Europe – eHealth and Ageing (2014-2020)

The Digital Agenda for Europe is part of the Europe 2020 strategy. The goal is to improve healthcare for the benefit of patients, give patients more control of their care and bring down costs by using ICT. Telehealth solutions are already used by millions of Europeans and health professionals to keep track of their health and wellbeing. Digital healthcare has yet to reap its great potential to improve healthcare and generate efficiency savings.

As Europeans live longer, hence the costs of health and social care will rise substantially to about 9% of EU GDP in 2050. ICT and eHealth can be our most powerful allies to maintain cost efficient and high quality health and social care, as it empowers people of every age to better manage their health and quality of life, in any place.

To find out more about eHealth and Ageing, click here.

European Employment Strategy

Through the European Employment Strategy, the European Commission provides a framework for EU countries to share experiences, ideas and discuss and coordinate their employment policies. The national governments together with the EU institutions produce every year an "employment package" which consists of the:

  • Employment Guidelines: for national employment policies proposed by the Commission and agreed by the national governments,
  • National Reform Programmes: delivered by the EU Members States which describe their employment policies, to be analysed by the Commission for compliance with the Europe 2020 targets,
  • Joint Employment Report: which is a forward looking analysis produced by the Commission and based on the overall employment situation in Europe,
  • Country Specific Recommendations: developed by the Commission and addressed to the national governments,
  • Employment and Social Development in Europe: provides the analytical and statistical background to underpin the Joint Employment Report as well as other instruments key to the European Employment Strategy.

In the most recently adopted employment package the Commission puts a special emphasis on the health sector and on its potential in creating new jobs.

The employment package adopted in April, 2012 is available here.

For more information on the European Employment Strategy please click here.


Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)

The aim of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme is to provide substantial support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which carry out innovative activities, such as better ICT use or eco-innovation, in order the enhance their competitiveness and innovative capacity.

The CIP has three sub-programmes with specific objectives and each of them are directly relevant to healthy and active ageing:

1. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) can fund innovative practices around employing older workers or delivering innovative products to older consumers.
2. The Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICT-PSP) stimulates a wider uptake of innovative ICT-based services, including ICT for health, ageing and inclusion.
3. The Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE) can address green mobility issues which may also reduce obstacles to active ageing.

The CIP has a budget of 3 621 million euros for the period 2007-13.

For further information please visit the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme's website.

Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is Europe's largest public-private partnership aiming to improve the drug development process by supporting a more efficient discovery and development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in Europe that will boost innovation in healthcare. Acting as a neutral third party in creating innovative partnerships, IMI aims to build a more collaborative ecosystem for pharmaceutical research and development (R&D). The European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme contributes €1 billion to the IMI research programme. For more information about the Innovative Medicines Initiative, please click here.

Health Strategy 2008-2013

The EU has a mandate to complement national action on health. This consists mainly of:

  • Protecting people from health threats and disease;
  • Promoting healthy lifestyles;
  • Helping national authorities in the EU cooperate on health issues.

The European Commission put forward a strategic approach for EU health policy for the period 2008-2013. This strategy aims at providing an overarching framework which covers not only core European health issues but also broader aspects such as health in all policies and global health. The Health Strategy has four specific objectives, all of which have ageing focus to some extent. In particular, objective one looks at "Fostering good health in an ageing Europe".

More information about the Health Strategy and its objectves is availalbe here.

Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for Research and Technological Development (2007-2013)

FP7 (2007-2013) supports research in selected priority areas, in particular for health and ageing. For example, FP7 funds research projects that look at: optimising the delivery of healthcare to citizens; enhanced health promotion and disease prevention; smarter, more accessible transport systems; demographic change; and ICT for ageing well.

For more information on FP7, how to participate, finding partners and finding a call, visit the FP7 homepage. National Contact Points (NCPs) have been established to help research actors access the funds successfully. 

PROGRESS Programme (2007-2013)

Through the Progress Programme, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion funds a number of European studies, provides policy training, supports NGO networks and runs public awareness campaigns on issues related to anti-discrimination, social exclusion, poverty and equality. Progress funds a number of projects looking at healthcare and civic participation.

More information is available here.

Health for Growth: 3rd EU health programme (2014-2020)

The 3rd EU health programme supports the overall Europe2020 strategy. Europe2020 aims to turn the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy promoting growth for all – one prerequisite of which is a population in good health. The Health for Growth programme is the main instrument of the European Commission to implement the EU health strategy.

There are four overarching objectives that seek to:”

  1. Promote health, prevent diseases and foster supportive environments for healthy lifestyles taking into account the ‘health in all policies’ principle,
  2. Protect Union citizens from serious cross-border health threats,
  3. Contribute to innovative, efficient and sustainable health systems,
  4. Facilitate access to better and safer healthcare for Union citizens.

The programme is implemented by means of annual work plans which set out priority areas and the criteria for funding actions under the programme. The total budget for the programme is € 449.4 million.

For more informatin about Health for Growth programme, click here.

European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012

The European Commission, in conjunction with the European Parliament and the European Council, dedicated 2012 as the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations.

The aim of the European Year is to facilitate the creation of a sustainable active ageing culture, based on a society for all ages and on solidarity between generations. National, regional and local authorities as well as social partners, businesses and civil society should promote active ageing and do more to mobilise the potential of the rapidly growing population in their late 50s and above. The year will encourage older people to:

  • stay in the workforce and share their experience;
  • keep playing an active role in society;
  • live as healthy and fulfilling lives as possible.

More information about the 2012 European Year is available here.

Europe 2020 Strategy

The future challenges of appropriately dealing with an ageing population and its repercussions in terms of cost for Member Stats, is central to the EU's social and economic strategy, Europe 2020: A European Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. Two of its key headline targets are directly linked to tackling the future challenges posed:

  • Raise to 75% the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64, including through the greater participation of, older workers;
  • Promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, by aiming to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion.

The Europe 2020 Strategy