The demographic change is one of the most determining megatrends all over the world and has an exceptional impact on Europe: Rising life expectancy on the one hand and falling birth rates on the other have led to a clear shift in the population’s age structure. The perspective of each Member State and consequently that of the European Union as a political, economic and social entity will be affected by this transition. It will affect healthcare and long-term care organisation, our social and welfare systems, the way we work and learn in the future and it will shape our infrastructures, our cities and transport systems. It will also provide for an accumulated wealth of experiences and social skills gained over lifetime.

All approaches to tackle the implications of demographic change and to provide guidance in shaping the transition towards a human, socially inclusive society need an active participation of politics, economy, and research. It is necessary to focus on individual lives in conjunction with the perspectives of our societies. Enhanced coordination and collaboration between researchers in Europe is most essential to address demographic change in the best possible way.
In its conclusions from 3rd of December 2008, Research Ministers of the European Union recognised the need for a new and strategic approach in coordinating European research activities to address societal challenges of common interest on a European or even global scale. The Council welcomed the new approach of Joint Programming proposed by the European Commission in Mid 2008 and encouraged Member States to make use of it.

The aim of Joint Programming is to making better use of Europe’s limited R&D funds through enhanced coordination and cooperation of research programmes in strategic areas. Joint Programming targets national public research and European programmes first and foremost. A group of member states taken up this approach and presented a proposal for a new Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) under the title “More Years, Better Lives – the Potentials and Challenges of Demographic Change” to the Joint Programming Group (GPC) of ERAC in the beginning of 2010.

COFACE Families Europe is on the societal advisory board of this research programme.

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