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29 September 2009: Lunch debate "European Action on dementia"

Alliance activities

The rate at which calls to address, at an European level, the challenges posed by dementia has been phenomenal. On 29 September 2009, Frieda Brepoels, MEP (Belgium) hosted a lunch debate in the European Parliament on the European action taken on Alzheimer’s disease.

Frieda Brepoels, MEP, Belgium

Frieda Brepoels, MEP, (Belgium) hosted Alzheimer Europe’s sixth lunch debate in the European Parliament which was entitled “European Action on Alzheimer’s Disease”. She welcomed her fellow MEPs, who were among the audience of nearly 60 participants. She spoke of her delight that calls for action by policy makers and Alzheimer Europe had been heard and she said that the European Alzheimer’s Alliance and had been a prime partner in triggering initiatives.

Antoni Montserrat, Policy officer for rare diseases, neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, Directorate of Public Health, European Commission, explained that it, when there is no specific mandate on a disease available, that it is necessary for the Commission to use the existing measures. He cited Article 152 of the EC Treaty, as it confers a duty on to improve health and prevent disease, as does the second Health Programme. However, it was the combination of the political force arising from the French Presidency, which resulted in two Council recommendations and the message from the European Parliament’s (in form of Written Declaration 80/2008), which has resulted in action from the Commission.

Antoni Montserrat, European Commission

He also acknowledged the role played by Alzheimer Europe and said that other instruments may also prove useful (the Directive from the European Parliament and Council on the application of patients’ rights and cross-border health border care, the adoption of the 2008 European Pact for Mental Health and the best practices identified in the recent Peer Review in France on Alzheimer’s and other related diseases).

 “The Communication (COM (2009) 380/4) to the European Parliament and the Council on a European initiative on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias” and the “Proposal for a Council Recommendation on measures to combat neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s, through joint programming of research activities” will result in the Commission providing funding to Alzheimer Europe as well as supporting Alzheimer Europe’s 20th Conference in 2010 and also committing to “joint action” with Member States and organising a meeting on this in December,

The 3rd health programme (2014-20) must reintroduce the disease dimension if long-term action is to be guaranteed by the Commission and Mr Montserrat concluded by speaking of his delight that the Commission could now continue to work to help address the challenges dementia creates and was grateful that momentum to act had been built by the Council, European Parliament. Commission and NGOs all working in the same direction.

Maria-José Vidal-Ragout

Maria-José Vidal-Ragout, Deputy Head of Unit “Medical & Public Health Research”, Directorate for Health Research, European Commission then presented the Commission’s plans for Joint programming for research into Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, which resulted from the Commission’s adoption of a Council Recommendation on measures to combat neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s through joint programming of research activities (COM 2009, 379/3).

The Recommendation invites Member States to establish

  • a common vision of how cooperation and coordination at EU level can help us to understand, detect, prevent and combat neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease;
  • A Strategic Research Agenda establishing medium to long term research needs and objectives in the area of neurodegenerative diseases
  • A management structure to monitor the implementation of the Strategic Research Agenda

To date, there are some 20 countries participating in the Joint Programming initiative. If this initiative is successful, the pooling of information and resources should enable the EU to make very practical advances, for example by developing an assessment of the effectiveness of treatments, early diagnostic tests, large, cross-border population studies, standardised diagnostic criteria and the sharing of knowledge.

Ms Vidal-Ragout ended her presentation by saying to the audience that the one main reason she had attended today was to help the audience realise “you are an important player – we are looking for your support”.


29 September 2009: European Parliament lunch debate "European action on dementia"


Last Updated: Monday 26 March 2012