20.01.2011: A healty economy depends on a healty populationHealth is a key foundation stone of the overall Lisbon strategy of growth, competitiveness and sustainable development. A healthy economy depends on a healthy population.
Without this, employers lose worker productivity and citizens are deprived of potential length and quality of life. This is doubly important as the European population ages in the coming decades. The impact of this demographic ageing will crucially depend on our ability to keep our citizens healthy and active throughout their longer lives. We are adding years to life, but we must also add healthy life to years.
A wide range of policies can help to influence this, ranging from employment and social protection strategies to the food we eat and how much we walk rather than drive. European policies and rules shape many of these areas, and this underlines how vital it is to ensure the integration of health protection into all policies and actions.
This is not just work for the Commission. After all, although we produce the proposals for Community action and the HIA that accompanies them, it is then up to the Parliament and Council to decide on them. Ensuring the integration of health protection into Community policies therefore also depends on the members of the European Parliament and the Member States in the Council.
Moreover, even if all best efforts are taken to integrate the health dimension into Community measures, health is a complex topic, and it is simply not always possible to anticipate all the impacts of new measures. Initial HIAs must therefore be accompanied by constant monitoring and evaluation in practice. At European level, we already have the important overall key indicator of Healthy Life-Years. But more research and statistical work is needed to develop more detailed indicators for particular areas and outcomes to ensure that the integration of health into all policies is not simply a one-off exercise, but a constant activity guiding our actions for the future.