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MEPs on European Parliament elections

European Parliament Elections 2014

Alzheimer Europe asked members of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance and supportive Members of the European Parliament to highlight past achievements and future priorities

Martina Anderson (United Kingdom, Northern Ireland)

As a carer myself, for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, I understand personally the challenges faced by those suffering from dementia-related diseases but also for those who care for them. In the next parliamentary mandate, I would particularly like to see research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease being prioritised, especially within the context of Horizon 2020, to better address the societal challenge of rapid demographic changes which is already happening and will only intensify over time.

It is important that all countries make the most of this programme, the only one to receive an increase in funds in the multiannual financial framework (MFF), to increase research in dementia-related diseases. Early diagnosis and treatment is absolutely essential here.

Elena Oana Antonescu (Romania)

I believe that working alongside the European Alzheimer’s Alliance can make a difference in how Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia are tackled by national and European social and healthcare policies. All the members of the Alliance have shown in the past a high level of dedication and determination in the actions undertaken in order to help people affected by these illnesses. Over the course of the next mandate, I believe that two priorities need to be addressed by the European and national leaders altogether.

On the one hand, it is clear that more funding needs to be directed towards research in dementia. On the other hand, I believe that social and public policy measures need to be adopted in order to raise awareness about dementia and its challenges and foster a more inclusive society that understands the people affected by these conditions, integrates them and does not physically or emotionally isolate them from society.

Maria Badia i Cutchet (Spain)

Age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia should be at the centre of EU actions, given the ever-growing ageing of our societies. Thus, the EU should boost further research to set early detection measures and improve the living conditions of the affected persons. To a broader extent, active ageing has been on the focus of many recent actions under the EU 2020 strategy and should continue to be a top priority for the EU institutions in the years to come.

Therefore, the EU should lead the improvements that are still to be made so as to fight inequalities in health sector - particularly when it comes to vulnerable population sectors - and to harness the full potential and possibilities offered by ICTs to enhance health and assistance systems and services.

Heinz K. Becker (Austria)

As co-chair of the European Parliament´s "Interest Group on Carers", I am focusing on the issue of dementia in order to strongly raise awareness, to strengthen all levels of prevention such as lifetime active ageing and to find new innovative solutions for keeping the elderly independent  for as long as possible. Let me also refer to the "Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme (AAL JP)", which will be continued within the new framework of Horizon 2020, as one of the European co-financed transnational programmes.

Among other aspects it offers new devices and strategies to help people with Alzheimer’s disease to manage their daily life better and at the same time supports relatives or informal carers in their caring function.

Maria da Graça Carvalho (Portugal)

As rapporteur for the Specific Programme implementing Horizon 2020, I defended an adequate budget for Research and Innovation in Europe. One of my priorities was the Health and Wellbeing sector, which has a dedicated budget of EUR 7.5 bn, the highest budget among the 7 Societal Challenges addressed in Horizon 2020.

I consider that the structure of this programme, targeting specific diseases such as Alzheimer’ disease, and the new features of the framework programme, covering the whole innovation cycle, will make a difference in the near future in the acceleration of research results in Europe. I hope that in the future the European Parliament continues supporting science and innovation in this field as well as other aspects related with this illness.

Nessa Childers (Ireland)

Dementia is a major public health issue with massive social, political and economic implications, and it is for this reason that I have had a passionate involvement with the issue throughout my parliamentary term. In 2011, I organised a seminar entitled 'Shared Priorities – Dementia and Alzheimer policy in Europe and Ireland' which focused on the EU Joint Action on Alzheimer’s initiative.  The seminar was held in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and offered a platform for policy and planning experts from Europe and Ireland to explore ways in which to help people with dementia and their families as well as ways in which to prevent the onset of dementia. 

It is critical that when dealing with public policy around dementia we have to be very careful to avoid discrimination against illness of later life. While it may not be the intention, health systems often reflect a discriminatory mind-set when it comes to spending policy where there it is acceptable to put a cap on medical care for older people that would not be tolerated in cancer care or care for children.

Ole Christensen (Denmark)

As a Member of the European Parliament and the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, I consider it of the utmost importance that we raise awareness about dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Considering the fact that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia affect millions of Europeans, the European Parliament must act to spread information about best practice care and in general work to raise awareness among national authorities and civil society.

Brian Crowley (Ireland)

Brian Crowley

I am delighted as Vice Chair of the European Alzheimer Alliance in the European Parliament to continue my support for Alzheimer Europe.  With our ageing population we must push progress forward. Community wide health concerns must remain a priority for us all and patients and their families must be at the centre of all our decisions.

Joseph Cuschieri (Malta)

Through my engagement with the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, I am glad I can help respond to the needs of people with dementia and of their carers. It is clear to me that Alzheimer’s disease must attract broad policy attention and call for immediate action.

Despite progress made over the past years, it is imperative that the next European Parliament remains responsive to the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and find solutions in collaboration with the Alzheimer associations on the ground. I was most delighted to recently host a lunch debate when Alzheimer Europe presented its European Dementia Monitor. I find it highly interesting to compare and benchmark how EU countries deal with the rising number of people with dementia. This tool will help us, policy makers, to fine-tune our national and European dementia strategies.

Rosa Estaràs Ferragut (Spain)

We are facing a big health problem that affects the whole society and requires a global response. The EU strategy should include a policy to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in order to avoid structural problems that could increase state spending to make front to ageing population. One big issue to address is how to ensure that, in the early stages, people with neurodegenerative diseases can continue working and contributing to society.

Administrations should take into account the social and health work performed by caregivers, 88% women, who suffer severe physical and mental strain that requires us to ensure their well-being.

Nathalie Griesbeck (France)

As it affects all Europeans without any distinction, the fight against neurodegenerative diseases and Alzheimer’s disease in particular must remain a public health and research priority of the next European Parliament. All MEPs who will renew their mandate and all those new to the European Parliament will be confronted with  a double responsibility. First, to continue raising awareness about the disease and its challenges and revive the synergy that we have established at the Europe level between the different actors during this current mandate. Second, to intensify our action to make sure Europe becomes a centre of excellence in scientific research on Alzheimer’s disease.

This is fundamental: it is imperative to stimulate research in order to better understand the disease. Without understanding the disease, it will be extremely difficult to take action. That is what I have supported since 2007 alongside Alzheimer Europe and as a member of the European Alzheimer's Alliance and what I intend to continue to do with my European Parliament colleagues in the coming 5 years.

Françoise Grossetête (France)

As Chair of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, I wish to address my sincere gratitude towards all national Alzheimer associations who daily provide support to the families and the people with Alzheimer’s disease.

At European level, a lot still remains to be done. However, I am most appreciative of the recent financial investments of the EU and the implementation of an unprecedented joint programming of research aiming to pool resources and rally the best scientific competences in Europe. Horizon 2020, the new EU research programme that has just been adopted has been allocated over EUR 70 billion for the period 2014-2020. This is an unprecedented effort towards research in Europe. It is indeed one of the most important research and innovation investment worldwide. Part of this budget will go towards financing European research programmes in age-related diseases.

Fiona Hall (United Kingdom)

I hope that the increased EU budget for research and the focus on active aging will stimulate new lines of enquiry, such as mapping of early changes in the brain using innovative imaging techniques to identify the key factors causing the onset of the disease.

I also hope that exchange of best practice at a European level could lead to a raised level of public awareness about behavioural changes in the very early stages of the disease. This could contribute to more accurate and sensitive interpretation of behaviours such as lack of inhibition which might otherwise be dismissed as eccentric or inappropriate, and thus help to ensure earlier diagnosis and protection of vulnerable individuals.

Anneli Jäätteenmäki (Finland)

The EU must invest more in research. What is more, the EU should actively support the formulation and the implementation of national action programmes. For an ageing Europe, Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses are a matter of urgency and a common problem.

Mocja Kleva Kekus (Slovenia)

Our rapidly ageing population means that the costs for addressing dementia will continue to increase. In order to tackle this problem, we need improved coordination between Member States as well as effective guidelines to prevent and treat patients and the people around them.

More should be done in the direction of home care and day care centres with a special programme for people with dementia. Dementia can no longer be set aside. It is time to start addressing this problem publicly and take the necessary steps to improve the lives of the people living with this disease.

Jean Lambert (United Kingdom)

There is a lot of expertise and good practice across the EU that can really help those caring for people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias: we need to develop better ways of bringing together and sharing that information so it can be used more effectively. I know from Carers' and other organisations, that there is also a need  for better quality and greater support for those informal carers and that we need to develop better training, support and pay for those who provide much of the everyday, professional care.

Obviously, we also need to continue research as to the causes, prevention and treatment of the condition: one which is often so devastating for sufferers themselves and also for those who love and care about them.

David Martin (United Kingdom, Scotland)

With an increasingly ageing population in the European Union (EU), issues such as dementia are moving further up the political agenda – and rightly so.  I believe that as dementia is one of the most pressing long-term challenge facing our health and social services in the EU it must become a public health priority in Europe. 

We must do all we can by working with organisations such as Alzheimer Europe to find effective treatment, and also put resources into research and prevention: examining whether lifestyle choices, such as changing our diet and exercising could reduce the risk of developing the disease.  As well as this we must find resources to help those, often close family, who are caring for the dementia sufferers – this is an issue we must tackle together.

Marisa Matias (Portugal)

Being the rapporteur of the European Parliament for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias was one of the biggest honours I had during these last years. All the networks and efforts which came together – with a very special emphasis for the amazing work which is done every single day by patient organisations – can't stop here.

For the future we have nothing to invent, we just need to put into practice all the good declarations that have been produced and implement them as we keep fighting together for dignity and justice. And that means a lot of work.

Linda McAvan (United Kingdom)

Linda McAvan

Like many people, it was when loved ones were affected by neurological disorders that I became much more aware of the need for more research into the causes of neurological disorders and for better care for those living with these conditions. I have therefore been very pleased as an MEP to work alongside the European Alzheimer’s Alliance to get the EU to pool knowledge and resources to tackle Alzheimer's and related conditions. A special workshop on ‘Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias’ was organised by my committee in 2010.

The workshop gave MEPs, representatives of the EU institutions, patient associations and scientific experts the chance to come together to establish best practice, as well as share our personal experiences of knowing and caring for those with Alzheimer’s. A great deal of my time in this Parliament has been spent on health issues, including work on medicines safety to ensure that there is proper monitoring of the side effects of medicines and clinical trials, to make sure new medicines are properly trialled before they reach the market. We know that times are tough and that there is real pressure on resources at present, but with an estimated 1 in 6 people over 80 in the UK suffering from some form of dementia, that’s over 6 million people in the EU, we cannot afford not to act, now and into the next parliament. 

Mairead McGuinness (Ireland)

At a time when research around Alzheimer's looks very promising for the future it is time to keep the foot on the pedal in terms of support for such research to ensure that the promise is delivered. Equally we need to ensure that political priority across Europe is given to this research and also to other important issues including appropriate care, social support, public health policy and the law.

Gay Mitchell (Ireland)

Alzheimer's disease is a major public health challenge and it is very important that we progressively raise awareness about this disease in order to get the attention of key players at a European and national level. This will help to improve research, funding and treatment for Alzheimer's. Networking is vitally important to progress this issue and we need to network the key players as much as possible. It also matters who is sent to the Parliament and Commission to lobby on behalf of Alzheimer's, people must be mandated to take decisions when lobbying.

Claude Moraes (United Kingdom)

Claude Moraes

In my role as Chair of the Intergroup on Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity, I have worked closely with Alzheimer Europe throughout this Parliamentary term and will continue to do so in the future to ensure that Alzheimer´s remains a key health priority throughout the EU.

In the next Parliament, we need to continue our work in these vital areas but also examine some of the challenges faced by dementia patients. We should particularly focus on how to ensure that products, services and the environment in general are accessible for persons suffering from dementia and their informal carers as well as facilitating active and independent living, all with the aim of improving the quality of life and independence of both groups. We need to do everything we can to ensure that this vulnerable group of persons and their carers are adequately protected and supported whilst working to make improvements in care.

Angelika Niebler (Germany)

The European Union acknowledges the importance of greater European collaboration on Alzheimer´s disease and related disorders. However we need to do more. I believe that the European awareness about the necessity to figh dementia and address the difficulties of people with dementia and their families should be raised further.

The key tool in the fight against dementia is undoubtedly research. Therefore, I am glad that the research on the disease of Alzheimer is included into  the next European research programme, "Horizon 2020", which stresses the importance of research especially with respect to societal challenges such as aging population. Hopefully, the research especially in this regard will contribute to successfully fighting against Alzheimer’s, thus giving hope to people suffering nowadays from Alzheimer’s and their families.

Antigoni Pericleous Papadopoulou (Cyprus)

Among the many challenges remaining in the next mandate of the European Parliament, is to raise awareness on health issues that have severe implications to millions of patients, their families, to health carers and the already overstretched health systems, both in Europe and our Member States.

Altzheimer's disease and dementia are amongthose neurodegenerative diseases that must be prioritised. Not only we must raise awareness on the disease, but we must make sure that effective funding is allocated for scientific research and for further actions and synergies, for boosting early detection measures, for improving medical care and the daily life of patients.

In the next legislature 2014-2019, we must ensure that EU will encourage active cooperation between Member states and will support further the formulation and implementation of national Altzheimer's plans. Moreover, it should stimulate further, a European Action Plan on Altzheimer's disease prevention.  

Alojz Peterle (Slovenia)

As Co-Chair of Health Working Group within the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee I pay particular attention to dementia and raising public awareness about this disease. In the next mandate, it will be the time to make dementia a priority and the European Parliament shall commit itself to meaningful, shared steps to drive forward dementia research and support investment in dementia research to attract, develop and retain the best scientists, clinicians and care professionals.

Besides, the creation of National  Alzheimer's  Plans in each Member State  and  the development of a European Action Plan on Alzheimer's disease the European Parliament shall be stimulated. Working together with the EU institutions, Member States, the research community, non-profit organisations and industry we will aim to transform the lives of people with dementia also by encouraging dementia-friendly environments allowing them to retain as much dignity and autonomy as possible.

Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland)

Sirpa Pietikäinen

During the next European Parliament legislature, guaranteeing non-discrimination through the adoption of the equal treatment directive is the priority issue. It is a key tool to address silent discrimination that especially people with memory disabling diseases face in societies. Also stronger focus needs to be put on those caring for patients.

We need a European level strategy for carers which introduces the ways to achieve a decent level of status, benefits and leaves for carers.

Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (Germany)

The silent, often ignored way of dementia into one’s family life hits everybody always unprepared. There are “only” two real challenges for us to tackle: 1) Invest as much as possible into any research to postpone, delay and ease the disease, and perhaps at some day: prevent and heal it. 2) As long as we are not there yet: inform, inform, inform.

Friends and family have to understand what happens with their beloved ones, and need practical and psychological support to be able to help the dement person to live without fear, while recognising that the known world vanishes slowly. The affected ones need as much stimulation, respect and assistance in daily life as possible to help them keep their dignity during their life.

Brian Simpson (United Kingdom)

Dementia is becoming ever more prevalent and I believe there is a clear need for a European strategy to tackle the challenges surrounding the condition. I hope that in the next mandate, Members of the European Parliament will give the issue the attention it deserves and continue to work to find pan-European solutions for the challenges facing both dementia patients and those that care for them.

Lambert van Nistelrooij (Netherlands)

Europe is ageing fast.  The number of people with dementia increases. There is an unacceptable gap between the European priorities and the funds we spend on age-related diseases. There is a misbalance in the European spending. For instance, the energy research receives 10 times more budget. We need to change.

Derek Vaughan (United Kingdom)

In my position as Labour MEP for Wales, and member of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, I am keen to promote discussion and awareness of Alzheimer's disease within the European Parliament. I have recently signed the Written Declaration on the challenges of neurodegenerative diseases in the workplace, and hope that this will help raise the profile of the challenges faced by people with dementia at work.

I would like to see the stigmatisation of people with dementia, the lack of social support and the lack of understanding of the disease addressed during the next European Parliament mandate.

Angelika Werthmann (Austria)

Dementia is an issue which is gaining more and more centre stage in our society and in politics as well, and which will increasingly demand attention in the future – not only due to the demographic developments.

I see the strengthening of the public dialogue between politics and the civil society as a core task for all parties involved. It is a basic principle of the European Alzheimer Alliance to make information public and to realise them in political concepts, which contributes to the building of communication networks on all levels. Among the challenges for the future are the high economic costs of dementia (especially in respect with the unfavourable development of the relation between employed persons and dementia sufferers), where, simultaneously, the personal fates and needs of the affected people and their relatives have to be kept in mind.

Glenis Willmott (United Kingdom)

I have worked closely with Alzheimer Europe throughout this Parliamentary term, from trying to improve prevention by working on risk factors such as nutrition and alcohol, to improving treatments by encouraging and supporting dementia research in my role as rapporteur for the Clinical Trials Regulation. I have also tried to ensure that research and projects focusing on the ageing population and dementia get sufficient funding through the EU's Health Programme and Horizon 2020.

In the next Parliament we need to continue this work, but I think we also need to look at some of the challenges around employment and social care faced by both dementia patients, and by their carers.  With the ageing population, and the worldwide rate of dementia set to double every twenty years, this is a problem we cannot ignore.

Corien Wortmann-Kool (Netherlands)

Corien Wortmann-Kool

I myself as an MEP have been engaged with the cause of dementia in Europe during my terms as Member of the European Parliament on many occasions.  Alzheimer’s disease is posing serious challenges to the health of a growing number of Europeans and I have always emphasised this. In addition, my husband is Director of Alzheimer's Disease International, which means that I am very sensitive to this huge problem and the urgent need for Europe to make more of an effort. The role of the Alliance in the Parliament must not be underestimated. In the past years, more awareness within the European Parliament has been raised.

More importantly, more funding for research and coordination on the side of the Commission has been put in place. These steps will enhance health and ageing of European citizens. However, many challenges remain in the next mandate of the European Parliament. I want to mention further efforts with regard to medicine development for Alzheimer’s disease. Also, the awareness of Alzheimer’s and its implications in the future still has to be raised both in the Parliament, in Europe and our Member States. I have good hope the Members of the European Parliament will continue their effort in the next legislative term. 

Marina Yannakoudakis (United Kingdom)

We need to find a cure for Alzheimer's; too many people's lives are affected by this terrible disease. In my London constituency alone, 68,000 people have developed dementia with thousands more relatives and carers are feeling its effects. Dementia is estimated to cost the British National Health Service £23 billion a year. By investing in a cure, we can bring relief to the millions affected by Alzheimer's as well as helping our overstretched health systems.



Last Updated: Wednesday 03 September 2014