The European Commission has just published its report on the public consultation on Europe’s social reality. Like the questionnaire did, this report covers a very wide range of areas, but we are pleased that a number of observations put forward by AGE are included in it. I would draw your attention in particular paragraphs on pages 10, 13 and 14 where our input is clearly alluded to. For instance, in references to the role of older people in making a useful contribution to society and their involvement in all areas of societal and community life, as this being a possible step towards their social inclusion and providing them with opportunities to contribute their accumulated knowledge, wisdom and experience to the societies they live in.
AGE observations on the importance of maintaining the autonomy and independence of the elderly as one of the primary objectives of European policy are also included, as is the need for an improvement in geriatric rehabilitation as one of the means to reduce demand for elder care. The AGE view of the role of the elderly as a positive economic factor whose potential should be recognised – in terms of their role as consumers and workers in an ageing society, but also in terms of preventative health care so as to avoid higher healthcare expenses at a later stage – is also emphasised, as is the fact that the implications of an ageing society are becoming obvious and that new health and social risks have far-reaching impacts on social protection systems.
This Commission working paper also draws on the AGE view that demographic change also opens up new opportunities for the spread of innovative services, goods and technologies, for instance for elder care, with substantial potential for growth and jobs. We also particularly pleased to see that our priority of the need for increased intergenerational solidarity is included and that it is noted that the social and financial implications of ageing require a substantial rethink of intergenerational responsibilities and the way the associated costs are shared between generations.