The EU's demographic situation requires a holistic approach that embraces social and economic policies, active labour market and cohesion policies, policies supporting families, measures for ageing workers etc. The best answer to the labour drain related to internal migration is the social and economic upward convergence of Member States. The COVID-19 crisis will strongly affect the policies on demographic challenges. We need urgent measures to protect citizens from the negative effects of this crisis.
The EESC adopted this opinion after in-depth work carried out during the four meetings of the study group. The opinion also reflects the national debates with civil society organisations carried out in all Member States between 2 September and 2 November 2016. These discussions were coordinated by three members of the EESC ('trios') from the country concerned, often in cooperation with the European Commission (15 debates) or the national economic and social council (7 debates). Participants came from a wide range of employers' and trade union organisations and other civil society organisations, as well as, to a lesser extent, from the academic world. A total of 116 EESC members and nearly 1,800 representatives of civil society organisations participated in the 28 debates. The conclusions/recommendations of the national debates have been grouped in the opinion, while the reports on the national debates will be published separately.
This exploratory opinion responds to a request made by the Polish Presidency. One of the key messages is that the number of high quality jobs needs to be increased. If we succeed to use the untapped employment reserves in all age brackets, many other issues - for instance the long term funding of the pension systems - will be solved. If the real retirement age is to be raised then it is necessary to ensure that people can work longer. The opinion lists a package of measures to make working conditions favourable for older people.