I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
Let me start by thanking the facilitators for this important resolution.
We recognize that healthy ageing is about enabling citizens to lead a healthy, active and independent life in older age. The EU attaches high attention to this topic and just adopted Council Conclusions on “Human Rights, Participation and Well-Being of Older Persons in the Era of digitalisation” in October, where we committed ourselves again to promote active and healthy aging, an age-integrated approach including a rights-based and a life-cycle perspective to ageing. We see this as key elements in the fight against multiple non-communicable diseases, like dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases or cancer.
Healthy ageing stretches beyond the limits of the health sector. It is a typical multi-sectoral issue affecting all parts of a society and includes environment, labour, gender issues, health equity, social participation, digital technology, education and recreation, just to name a few. Healthy ageing is all about creating opportunities that enable people to enjoy well-being and to do what they value even in older age.
The common goal must be to deliver ageing policies that contribute to active, healthy, inclusive and independent lives. Therefore, this decade of healthy ageing is rightly more encompassing than only looking at health-related issues. It is not only about added years in life but also about the quality of life added to these years. In this context, we need to be looking at age-friendly environments, adapted to the elderly and an assured equal participation within society as well as health promotion and disease prevention as key elements. This decade will only succeed through full cooperation in every sector.
We feel that this is well reflected in the resolution and lend our full support to this UN decade.
Nevertheless we are of the opinion that the resolution would have benefitted from not shying away from the challenges of gender-based violence, which we deem important for all ages alike. The European Union has committed itself to preserving human rights, which are indivisible and inherent to all human beings, regardless of age.
Moreover, we regret that it was not possible to include addressing stigmatization because of age as this is a problem in a number of societies worldwide and poses incredible challenges for individuals.
We would also have preferred to see an endorsement of the proposal of this Decade, as requested in the World Health Assembly instead of just a welcoming. At the adoption of Decision A73/12, only 4 months ago in the WHA, member states decided unanimously to endorse the proposal for a decade of healthy ageing and requested to transmit this decision to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to become an UN Decade.
Let me conclude: the EU stands firmly united in this endeavor and we are ready to engage constructively in this decade.