PositionEuropean Parliament approves Ambient Assisted Living

The Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) research programme appears to be sailing smoothly through the legislative process. After winning the overall support of the Council in late November, the proposal secured, on 24 January, the unanimous approval of the European Parliament's Industry Committee (ITRE), which endorsed EU participation in the maximum amount of 150 million for 2008-2013.

The population of the 65-80 age group will be rising by around 40% between 2010 and 2030 in Europe, according to the European Commission's projections.

With AAL, the idea is to take up the challenge of the ageing of the population by boosting the emergence of new information and communication technologies (ICT) that can help counteract problems related to memory, vision, hearing, mobility or loss of independence.

To be a real success, the total contributions by participating countries will have to top 150 million for the duration of the 7th Framework Programme (2007-2013), according to a report by Neena Gill (PES, United Kingdom). They will have to make up at least 20% of the national research budget, regardless of the member states, to prevent small states from being kept out of the programme, explained Gill. If non-EU countries wish to participate, they will have to abide by very strict rules and pay their way, she added.

The aim is also to create a critical mass of research, development and innovation in the EU in this sector, particularly in SMEs.

The AAL programme also offers the unexpected opportunity to use Article 169 of the EC Treaty, which enables the EU to participate in this programme already being implemented in 20 member...

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