Towards an age-friendly EU

EU Covenant logo

Campaign and Objective

In 2012 AGE launched the Campaign “Towards and Age-Friendly EU by 2020” with the goal to shape a fair and sustainable society for all ages. In order to support age-friendly environments it is necessary to create a network to enable different stakeholder across Europe to exchange knowledge and good practices. Therefore, AGE called, together with a coalition of stakeholders, for an EU Covenant on Demographic Change to create the necessary political and technical framework to support active and healthy aging and develop age-friendly environments, similar to the Covenant of Mayors on sustainable energy. The aim is to bring together local and regional authorities and stakeholders, across the EU, who want to find smart and innovative evidence based solutions and facilitate the creation of an EU repository of good practice.

The objectives of the Covenant are to:

  • promote a comprehensive and integrated approach of ageing in linking all relevant stakeholders working at local, regional and national levels on the promotion of age-friendly environments;
  • create a European network of age-friendly local and regional authorities supporting the same vision of a society for all ages based on the WHO Guide for age-friendly environments adapted to the EU context;
  • build synergies between local and regional initiatives and relevant EU policy processes, such as the development of national programs to support local and regional initiatives to create age-friendly environments;
  • help local and regional actors contribute to the Knowledge and Innovation Community for healthy living and active ageing;
  • Support healthy competition and higher competitiveness among “silver economy” industries.


Implementation of the Campaign

The implementation of the campaign “Towards an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020 was mainly driven by two processes which made it possible to strongly influence the political agenda on European level. One process is the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Aging (EIP AHA), the other one is the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 (EY 2012).


  • European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Aging

The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP AHA) was released in 2010 and is part of the Innovation Union which is one out of the seven flagship initiatives adopted by the European Union to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by 2020. The overarching goal of the EIP AHA is, to enable citizens to live longer independently in good health by increasing the number of healthy life years by two. The partnership is described as a triple-win for Europe as it seeks to:

  1. Enable EU citizens to lead healthy, active and independent lives while ageing;
  2. Improve the sustainability and efficiency of social and health care systems developing EU and global markets for innovative products and services;
  3. Ultimately create new opportunities for businesses.

To develop a strategic plan on how to tackle the challenges of the demographic change with innovation and to bring better health to older people within the scope of the EIP AHA, in 2011 a steering group on Active and Healthy Aging was set up and included AGE.

Based on the vision to find new paradigms of ageing and innovative services for older people, to focus on a holistic and multidisciplinary approach and to develop dynamic and sustainable care systems, “three pillars reflecting the ‘life stages’ of older individual[s]” were formed:

  1. Prevention, screening and early diagnosis
  2. Care and cure
  3. Active aging and independent living

Additionally, “horizontal issues”, such as regulatory and standardization conditions, effective funding and evidence based, reference examples, repository for age-friendly innovation, which are related to each pillar, were pointed out.

A result of the steering group was the establishment of 6 action groups, which  focus on the actions needed in each of the three pillars and the horizontal issues.

A1 – Adherence group aims for better prescription and adherence to medical plans

A2 – Falls group seeks to further develop the prevention of falls.

A3 – Frailty group roles out action for prevention of functional and cognitive decline and frailty

B3 – Integrated care group is active in supporting the good practice exchange of integrated care solutions

C2 – independent living group development interoperable independent living solutions by proposing standards and the exchange of good practice examples.

D4 – age friendly environments group aims to collect as many good practice examples across Europe as possible and connect different stakeholder on regional and local level.

In order to illuminate the importance of age-friendly environments on regional and local level, three members of the D4 action group (AGE, CEMR and Eurocities) carried out a survey to “Assess the needs of regions, cities and towns regarding a European initiative supporting age-friendly environments”. The result of this study is that the 255 respondents, thereof 81 cities, 47 regions, 31 towns and 96 organizations (universities, NGO’s…) are becoming more and more active in the field of age-friendly environments, but face obstacles such as: lack of funding, limited possibilities to share good practices and information about funding.

Altogether, the activities promoted through the EIP AHA, especially with regard to the development of age-friendly environments, are dynamic and seek to contribute to find sustainable solutions for the future.


  • The European Year 2012 on Active Aging and Solidarity between Generations

The European Year 2012 on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations was the outcome of a campaign launched by AGE. It received the formal support of the Slovenian EU Presidency and the European Commission in 2008. The context of the year is twofold: On the one hand the promotion of active aging, driven by the definition of the WHO: “Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.” On the other hand, to take the demographic change as a chance to not waste the potential of the so called baby boom generation to participate longer in the labor market. Furthermore, the tenth anniversary of the “International Action Plan on Aging”, which was adopted in 2002, supports the set up a framework to promote active ageing across Europe.

On the other hand solidarity between generations needs to be taken into account to ensure that neither, older nor younger people are becoming a burden for the others as it is also mentioned in article 3.3 of the Lisbon Treaty. Additionally, a coalition of European NGO’s led by AGE launched the European Day on Solidarity between Generations since the 29th of Aril 2009, a yearly opportunity to stress the importance of the topic for the public.

As legacy to the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations AGE launched its Campaign “Towards an AGE-Friendly EU by 2020” and issued a call for a Covenant on Demographic Change in its “Manifesto for an Age-Friendly European Union by 2020”. The promotion of active ageing in employment, solidarity between generations through active aging in the community and independent living was addressed to all stakeholders on European, national, regional and local level; to policy makers, NGO’s, researchers, employers, trade unions and service providers. They were all invited to join the EU virtual forum on Age-Friendly Environments which today, links more than 150 stakeholders interested in the promotion of AFE.

AGE’s vision is to enlarge this good practice exchange and therefore strongly works to push forward the idea of an EU Covenant on Demographic Change.

This website is developed with the financial support of an operating grant of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission. The contents of the articles are the sole responsibility of AGE Platform Europe and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.