European Policies and Initiatives

One of the greatest challenges currently facing Europe is how best to adapt EU policies and strategies to meet the demands associated with demographic change. As the EU faces this challenge its headline strategies such as the EU 2020 Strategy are heavily influenced by these prospects. The European Commission (EC) is taking proactive measures to tackle the future challenges posed by an ageing population by prioritizing initiatives that will contribute to building a healthy and active population for the future. In order to achieve this, the importance of health and being healthy must be promoted throughout the lifecourse, starting with investment in early years and continuing right through into old age. The European Commission has identified active and healthy ageing as a major societal challenge common to all European countries, and an area which presents considerable potential for Europe to lead the world in providing innovative responses to this challenge.

The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing is a pilot initiative which brings together key stakeholders (end users, public authorities, industry); all actors in the innovation cycle, from research to adoption (adaptation), along with those engaged in standardisation and regulation. The Partnership provides these actors with a forum in which they can cooperate, united around a common vision that values older people and their contribution to society, identify and overcome potential innovations barriers and mobilise instruments.The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing will pursue a triple win for Europe:

  • enabling EU citizens to lead healthy, active and independent lives while ageing;
  • improving the sustainability and efficiency of social and health care systems;
  • boosting and improving the competitiveness of the markets for innovative products and services, responding to the ageing challenge at both EU and global level, thus creating new opportunities for businesses.

This will be realised in the three areas of prevention and health promotion, care and cure, and active and independent living of elderly people. The overarching target of this pilot partnership will be to increase the average healthy lifespan by two years by 2020.

EuroHealthNet is an active partner of the European Innovation Partnership on Healthy and Active Ageing (EIP-AHA). We are part of the group working on Action Group D4: Innovation for age-friendly buildings, cities and environments. The D4 Action Group is comprised of local and regional authorities from across the EU, European NGOs, technology providers, research centres, and SMEs. The Action Group seeks to devise strategies for adapting EU environments to suit the needs of the ageing population.


For the 2016-2018 period, the D4 AG overall objective was to: 'contribute to create a more inclusive society, communities and R&D systems across Europe by empowering older people to actively participate in the creation of age-friendly environments through scaled-up inclusive solutions.'

Four broad domain areas have been identified as key to reaching this objective:

1. Innovative employment policies and the silver economy
2. Technologies and social networks; innovation, accessibility and universal design
3. Age-Friendly Tourism and its impact
4.  Inclusive Smart Cities

For more information on EIP-AHA please click here.

For more information on the Action Group D4, please click here.

EuroHealthNet has an important role in creating the links with other EU policy areas and in promoting WHO guidelines and evidence based policy recommendations. We support the creation of an EU covenant on demographic change and enable the necessary political and technical framework to bring together local and regional authorities and other stakeholders across the EU. EuroHealthNet identifies smart and innovative initiatives to facilitate exchanges and disseminate knowledge and information which support active and healthy ageing and the development of age-friendly environments.

The European Commission also published a guide on excellent innovation for ageing. It aims to take you on a special journey through Europe: a tour of regions, cities and communities where you can see innovation for active and healthy ageing in real life. Now we know where to go when we need inspiring real-life examples of active and healthy ageing.

To access the guide, click here.


Joint EU and Member States Initiatives

ADVANTAGE, Joint Action on Frailty

ADVANTAGE, the new Joint Action on Frailty, has been launched at the end of January 2017. 

The main objective of this JA is to establish a common European framework for addressing the problem of frailty, which is the main condition associated with the risk of developing disabilities. This objective includes the design of strategies adapted to the preconditions, interests and priorities of each Member State. This approach will enable the development of policies adapted to local conditions, but within a common homogeneous framework. 

22 Member States are represented in this JA through more than 40 organisations. The JA contributes to the work of the European Commission on health issues related to ageing. Among these issues, disability stands out in particular because it is a major determinant of loss of quality of life. Dealing with its main risk factor (fragility) and designing a joint plan for addressing it from a European perspective will contribute substantially to addressing this priority.

For more information, click here

The Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Joint programme

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a specific joint programme (2008-2013) led in conjunction with Member States, the European Commission and private industry. AAL uses intelligent products and the provision of remote services including care services to improve the lives of older people at home, in the workplace and in society in general.

The programme aims to overcome technical and regulatory barriers to AAL, foster and demonstrate innovative smart homes and independent living applications, exchange best AAL practice and raise awareness on the possibilities of AAL for Europe's ageing population. It thus hopes to: extend the time older people can live in their home environment; improve the quality of life and social participation of older people; create new business opportunities; provide more efficient and more personalised health and social services for older people

More information on the AAL programme is available here.

Neurodegenerative Disease Research Joint Programme (JPND)

The overall aim of the EU Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) initiative is to find cures for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and other age-related illness, and to enable early diagnosis for early targeted treatments. The JPND seeks to identify common research goals in order to accelerate progress on developing new cures and solutions that can alleviate the symptoms and ease the situation of patients and their families.

The joint programme has three components:

  • Improve the scientific understanding of the disease.
  • Improve the medical tools available to doctors to identify and treat the disease.
  • Improve the social care and structures available to assist patients, their families, and health service providers so that patients can receive optimum care at all stages of their illness.

More information on the Neurodegenerative Disease Research Joint Programme are available here.

European Commission Initiatives and Programmes

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.


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 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.

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.

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.

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.