Maire Geoghegan-Quinn: Half of all the girls born this year will live to 100. So how will Europe cope?
BY 2020, a quarter of Europeans will be over 60. European policymakers and other opinion formers have therefore become focused on finding ways to use this impending demographic shift to our advantage.
In recognition of the complex societal challenges that Europe currently faces, in 2011, the European Commission launched the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Active and Healthy Ageing, which aims to add two additional healthy life years to the average citizen by 2020. The EU also designated 2012 the Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations and this year a summit will be held in Dublin to further develop a clear direction for policy in this area.
This year, half of all girls born in the developed world will live to be a hundred. While longer lives are a cause for celebration, this "gift of longevity" will become a social and economic burden if we are unhealthy and inactive. In particular, the quadrupling number of people aged over 80 in the next few decades is likely to increase the proportion of our population who have chronic health conditions, rely on pensions and have specific transport needs.