Since FERPA’s last Congress held in may 2007, this is the third research study published by FERPA, confirming a strong will and intense research activities and in-depth analysis of social issues related to the elderly and pensioners in Europe. The two previous studies were dedicated as follows: the rst one to the theme of “loss of purchasing power of pensions”, and the second to a re ection on “living in Europe as retired: How much does it cost?”. Both publications, circulated among the FERPA members and brought to the atten- tion of all Eu institutions, have elicited great attention and a considerable positive feedback. This year the research theme selected is a “Comparative study on non-self-suf- ciency in the member States”. Even if the de nition of “non-self-suf ciency” is translated by different terms in the various countries (dependency, invalidity, dis- ability, etc.), the issue in question is absolutely clear and extremely topical. Of course, these are issues that affect not only the elderly and retired people, but it can certainly be stated that a majority of the “non-self-suf cient” persons are to be found amongst the over 65 and that, because of population dynamics, this pres- ence is bound to grow. It is therefore of interest to FERPA and its af liates to be aware of the size and the implications of the issue and, above all, to be informed on the “best practices” in Europe, which could set an example and an incentive to follow by countries (and regions) who are still experiencing serious shortcomings and dif cuties. It is very important that the contents of research may have been used, in addition to the existing of cial sources, as a primary and original source, like the one pro- vided by the FERPA af liates who responded to an extensive questionnaire, ena- bling researchers to make use of direct and unmediated information. To all those who have given their support a grateful thanks. We talk about topical issues, on which the European union and major international actors, such as the World Health organization, are focusing their attention and their efforts. Over time, every human being is bound to experience a decline in his or her health condition and suffer some degree of disability. So when we speak of “dependency” or “non-self-suf ciency”, we talk about a universal experience. And above all, it is a social problem and not just a medical one. For those who like us believe in the values of a modern trade union, it is a matter of solidarity.

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