Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (France)
MEPs speak out on dementia
Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (France) talks to AE about her priorities for the European elections (May 2009)
In the run up to the elections, Alzheimer Europe asked Members of the European Parliament the following questions:
1. As the mandate of this European Parliament draws to a close, we would be very interested in hearing which you consider to be the key accomplishments of this Parliament which had a direct impact on people with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers?
2. After the European Parliament elections in June, which are the main policy initiatives that will be important for people with dementia and their carers?
3. If you are re-elected, do you have any personal priorities that would be of particular interest to people with dementia and their carers?
Elisabeth Morin-Chartier: The European Alzheimer's Alliance, of which I have been a member as a Member of the European Parliament, has been very instrumental in the European Parliament in raising awareness about the urgency for Europe and the Member States to make Alzheimer's disease a public health priority. The success of the Alliance’s work in the European Parliament was epitomised by the signing of the EP Written Declaration on Alzheimer's disease by some 60% of the Members of the European Parliament, from all EU Member States and EP political groups.
Not only has the Alliance increased awareness, it has also motivated the Members of the European Parliament to take the issue to national level. I am particularly proud that French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, launched in 2008 a broad and comprehensive Alzheimer Plan. His decision to organise a conference dedicated to Alzheimer's disease during the EU French Presidency has produced recommendations that were later on taken on board at two Council meetings.
Since then, I was equally happy to hear Androulla Vassiliou, Health Commissioner, announce that the European Commission will be launching an Alzheimer initiative in 2009.
It is quite remarkable that within a fairly short period of time, the three major EU institutions have converged towards the common goal of addressing Alzheimer's disease comprehensively. This is a concrete example of what Europe can do to improve the quality of life of the people with Alzheimer's disease and their carers.
I welcome the French EU Presidency initiative to invite the Member States to form, on a voluntary basis, a European network that will pool resources in the field of Alzheimer's disease, thereby avoiding duplication and waste of resources. To date, some 10 EU countries have responded positively to this invitation and it would be comforting to see the remaining countries join the network. This initiative certainly needs to be further promoted to yield results that will benefit the research community, people with dementia and carers.
The discussions and decisions made within the context of the current economic crisis must never forget the people with dementia and their carers. The ageing of the population associated with age-related diseases and the foreseen reduction of the labour force will lead to an increase in the need for caring professions, respite care and tailor-made social services. The opinion I made on behalf of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on a European recovery plan in particular calls on the Member States to invest in the social economy which can contribute towards growth since it has a considerable potential for creating high-quality jobs and strengthening social and territorial cohesion. It is important that all future EU policies take these parameters into account.
I also look forward to the recommendations that will be brought forward by the Czech Presidency conference on the care and social protection of seniors.
The new European Parliament will need to be vigilant and ensure that the recommendations of the Council and the Parliament are followed by concrete measures. I will of course follow with great interest the European Commission initiative on Alzheimer's disease and offer my support.
The European Alzheimer's Alliance must survive during the next term and pursue its excellent work. Considering the challenges of an ageing population and the foreseen increase in the number of people with dementia, it would be legitimate for the Alliance to be granted formal recognition by the European Parliament and thereby optimise its outreach. I hereby would like to congratulate Alzheimer Europe for its passionate work and recent achievements. I am happy to have been part of this adventure and pledge to continue in the future.
Last Updated: Wednesday 14 October 2009