Skip to content .

Service navigation

Main Navigation


Further information

Link to opens in a new window




Opening address by Minister Marjeta Cotman at the Conference on Intergenerational Solidarity for Cohesive and Sustainable Societies

Check against delivery!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to Slovenia! I am delighted that you have accepted the invitation to participate in this Slovenian Presidency Conference, the basic purpose of which is to continue and intensify the European debate on demographic challenges. I would like to take this opportunity to cordially thank the European Commission for its help and financial support in preparing this event as well as the non-governmental organisations for their contributions to its content.

Intergenerational solidarity and long-term care, the themes on which you will exchange your knowledge, experience and good practices over the next two days, are an encouragement and, at the same time, a warning to all countries – within the European Union, and outside it – that modern societies must deepen their awareness of the need for solidarity in everyday life.

We live in times of dynamic and significant social change resulting from political, economic and demographic processes. With a declining birth rate and rising life expectancy, conventional relationships between generations in European societies are evolving rapidly. Accordingly, policy-makers at all levels must, in cooperation with experts and civil society, redefine those relations. In so doing, we must not neglect any of the common European values and principles which are fundamental to all democratic and developed societies.

Solidarity is undoubtedly one of these values. It is an integral part of all European systems. Social protection systems, pension and sickness insurance, and health insurance systems are all based on solidarity. Solidarity should not be understood in merely financial terms. We should place equal importance on the mutual cooperation, understanding and co-existence of generations. Solidarity connotes a conscious decision.

Due to changed demographic structures, intergenerational solidarity is now more important than ever, given that existing solutions can no longer guarantee all citizens the appropriate health and social protection which constitute a core aspect of political and social stability in every society. New systems need to be established in Europe.

We perceive that there is a solution to be found in a change in the relationship, the search for new forms and a new responsibility shouldered by all generations: young, middle-aged and elderly people. Intergenerational solidarity must be an integral component of our talks and agreements on the future. We are convinced that solutions will not present themselves spontaneously, all the key actors must be involved in finding them. The final aim is to reach a new intergenerational agreement which will allow for new relations in society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Long-term care is one example of solidarity in practice. While primarily intended for the people that urgently need it in their every day life, indirectly it gives us all security since no one knows if and when they may need it themselves.

Major challenges lie ahead: how can the equal access to long-term care and its universality be safeguarded? how can the organisation of long-term care be improved? how can better quality be achieved? and how can the sustainability of long-term care in terms of financing and human resources be guaranteed? These issues are closely associated with the concept of solidarity.

Care for the infirm is an aspect of social care in which social differences are most markedly highlighted and, therefore, call for particular attention. In each society, there are individuals whose care needs are not identified, who are left without care or who receive inadequate care. Even the richest European societies have pockets of poverty, and these, unfortunately, are not decreasing. In a consumer society, the poor remain on the margins. This impinges not only on the equality of access to and fairness of public services but also on the human dignity of each individual. And it is, therefore, precisely long-term care that is the yardstick by which every society can establish the level of its humanity and respect for human values and relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This conference will focus on identifying a new balance and new relationships between generations, researching new approaches and policies aimed at encouraging intergenerational solidarity for cohesive and sustainable societies.

The conference is divided into two parts. In the first part, we will address broader aspects of intergenerational solidarity and coexistence while, in the second part, we will consider one of its specific aspects, i.e. long-term care. The follow-up programme includes a plenary session in which I will present the conclusions of the conference, which will be sent to the Member State Governments for implementation according to their best abilities in cooperation with experts and civil society.

I am convinced that this conference will substantially raise awareness of the overall importance of intergenerational solidarity. Sustainable social development is feasible only with genuine contact and coexistence between all generations based on intergenerational solidarity.

I hope your discussions will be productive. Thank you.


Accessibility     . Print     .

Date: 28.04.2008