Demographic ageing, i.e. the increase in the proportion of older people, is above all the result of signifi cant economic, social and medical progress giving Europeans the opportunity to live a long life in comfort and security that is without precedent in our history. However, as was stressed by the Heads of State and Government at their Hampton Court informal summit in October 2005, it is also one of the main challenges that the European Union will have to face in the years to come.
This Communication responds to the concern raised at this summit, which is also widely felt by Europes citizens. It is a follow-up to the Commissions communication to the European Council entitled European values in the Globalised World and the Commissions Green Paper on Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations
It examines the possibilities for Europeans to confront the demographic challenge by drawing on the renewed Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs and the Sustainable Development Strategy. More specifi cally, More specifi cally, it underlines how the European Union can support its Member States as part of a long-term strategy, the implementation of which essentially depends on their willingness and competences. In so doing, it sets out the main factors, evaluates the various complex impacts and identifies the main courses of action at national, regional and local levels, as well as at European level. It concludes that we can take up the challenge of the ageing population if we create conditions in support of people who wish to realise their desire to have children and take full advantage of the opportunities offered by longer and more productive lives in better health. [extract]