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Relevance in the European policy context

In 2012, Alzheimer Europe published a yearbook primarily focusing on the progress of each country in Europe in relation to the development and implementation of national dementia strategies. Included within this report was an overview of the availability of medicines, the status of care and support, as well as the identification of any research activity within countries.

At the time, 11 national dementia strategies were in place, with five under development at the time of publication.

As shown in Table 1 (see page above), 21 National Dementia Strategies are now in place, with two countries (France and Spain) with national neurodegenerative strategies in place (which include dementia) and two countries (Germany and Sweden) having officially announced that they are in the process of developing national dementia strategies.

This progress has taken place in parallel to a number of developments at the European level, with the policy, practice and research landscape all having progressed significantly as part of the EU health and research programmes. These include the EU Health Programme, the second Joint Action on Dementia, research projects funded through the Horizon 2020 programme, the extension of the public-private Innovative Medicines Initiative, as well as proposals currently under development in relation to the European Social Pillar. A summary of significant European policy and research developments since 2012 can be found in the page above.

One disappointment from 2018 was the decision by the European Commission to disband the Group of Governmental Experts on Dementia (on which Alzheimer Europe, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and World Health Organization (WHO) sat as observer members) being superseded by the ‘Member States Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases’ 1. This is somewhat reflected in the French and Spanish approaches to national strategies, both of which have grouped dementia within the bracket of a neurodegenerative condition and published strategies on these conditions as a whole.

More positively, at an international level the WHO adopted a Global Action Plan on Dementia (2017–2025), committing to developing ambitious national strategies and implementation plans. The global plan aims to improve the lives of people with dementia, their families and the people who care for them, while decreasing the impact of dementia on communities and countries. Its seven areas for action are:

  1. dementia as a public health priority;
  2. dementia awareness and friendliness;
  3. dementia risk reduction;
  4. dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and support;
  5. support for dementia carers;
  6. information systems for dementia; and
  7. dementia research and innovation.

As part of this, delegates at the World Health Assembly called on the WHO Secretariat to offer technical support, tools and guidance to Member States as they develop national and sub-national plans and to draw up a global research agenda for dementia. The importance of the Global Dementia Observatory (GDO) as a data and knowledge exchange platform offering easy access to key data from Member States across policy, service delivery, and information and research, was recognised as a vital resource. On a related note, Alzheimer Europe was delighted to be accredited by the WHO Regional Office for Europe this year. It is noteworthy that across the strategies, there is a clear policy consensus about some of the key priorities which must be addressed, both in relation to awareness raising within society, care and treatment, and research. Whilst the strategies naturally reflect the socioeconomic and policy context of their respective areas, the fact that broad themes can be extracted and presented coherently, is evidence of a convergence in approach to dementia across Europe.


1           Alzheimer Europe, working with previous members of the group, hosted a similar ‘expert group’ to ensure that a vital forum for information and knowledge sharing is not lost. The first meeting of the group took place between 3–4 December 2018.

 Countries with a dementia-specific strategy  




UK, Northern Ireland

Belgium (Flanders)



UK, Scotland




UK, Wales

Czech Republic










UK, England



Countries with a neurodegenerative diseases strategy

France                                   Spain

Countries with no dementia-specific strategy                                                                                                                                          



Germany 1



Bosnia and Herzegovina



Sweden 2














1           The German Federal Government has committed to publishing a national dementia strategy, building on the ‘Fields of Action’ document published by the German Alliance for People with Dementia published in 2012.

2            The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare has been tasked with identifying the long-term strategic issues related to dementia (e.g. models of care). The Board was expected to present a first outline of the work plan to the Swedish Government in October 2018, with the finalised plan expected to be published in 2022.

Significant European policy and research developments since 2012

  • —Glasgow Declaration (2014) – The Glasgow Declaration calls for the creation of a European Dementia Strategy and national strategies in every country in Europe. The declaration also called for world leaders to recognise dementia as a public health priority and to develop a global action plan on dementia. Over 11,600 individuals signed the declaration, with more than 200 organisations and in excess of 150 policy makers showing their support by signing the pledge.
  • Horizon 2020 (2014–2020) – This programme is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme, with approximately EUR 80 Bn of funding available over 7 years, aiming to deliver more breakthroughs and discoveries in research.
  • Innovative Medicines Initiatives (IMI) 1 & 2 (2008–2013 & 2014–2020) – As part of Horizon 2020, the IMI 2 is a continuation of the original IMI scheme, representing the largest private-public medicines initiative in the world. It was officially launched in July 2014 and has funded a number of key dementia research projects, including EPAD, AMYPAD, ROADMAP and PARADIGM, all of which involve Alzheimer Europe.
  • European Parliament Written Declarations (2015 and 2016) – Two Written Declarations were made with the support of MEPs in the European Alzheimer’s Alliance in 2015 and 2016. The 2015 declaration encouraged both the European Council and the European Commission to prioritise greater collaboration in research, care and prevention. The 2016 declaration called for dementia to be recognised as a public health priority, as well as identifying the need for a strategy to meet challenges presented by dementia.
  • EPSCO Council adopts Luxembourg EU Presidency Conclusions (2015) – The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council of the Luxembourg EU Presidency, adopted conclusions on a number of health-related items, including conclusions on “Supporting people living with dementia”. One of these included calling on all Member States to address dementia as a priority, to develop national strategies or actions plans and to strengthen the collaboration between European countries.
  • Second European Action on Dementia (2016–2019) – Following ALCOVE (Alzheimer Cooperative Valuation in Europe – the first ‘Joint Action on Dementia’), the European Commission supported the launch of a second Joint Action through its health programme. The programme aims to promote collaborative actions among Member States to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their carers, and focuses on four key areas: Diagnosis and post-diagnostic support; Crisis and care coordination; Residential care; and; Dementia-friendly communities.
  • European Social Pillar (2017) – The European Social Pillar, proclaimed by EU Members in 2017, sets out 20 principles in three areas: Equal Opportunities and Access to the Labour Market; Fair Working Conditions; and; Social Protection and Inclusion. As part of this, the Commission is currently drafting a directive in relation to Principle Nine, ‘Work-Life Balance’, which would give carers the right to five days of paid leave each year. Other relevant pillars include:
    • Healthcare – Everyone has the right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative health care of good quality.
    • Inclusion of people with disabilities – People with disabilities have the right to income support that ensures living in dignity, services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society, and a work environment adapted to their needs.
    • Long-term care – Everyone has the right to affordable long-term care services of good quality, in particular home-care and community-based services.
  • Relevance in the European policy context – In June 2018, at a lunch debate in the European Parliament, Alzheimer Europe presented the final findings from the European Carers Survey, which had explored the experience of carers in the diagnostic and post-diagnostic processes in five countries across Europe. The results showed that the process of diagnosis is still taking too long and carers often do not receive adequate support after the diagnosis has been made.



Last Updated: Friday 26 April 2019


  • Acknowledgements

    This report received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). The content of the Yearbook represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains
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