Demographic challenges in the EU in light of economic and development inequalities (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Croatian presidency)

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EESRK nuomonė: Demographic challenges in the EU in light of economic and development inequalities (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Croatian presidency)

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.


Key points

  • The EU's present demographic situation requires a holistic approach that embraces social and economic policies, active labour market and cohesion policies, policies supporting families and especially the possibility of reconciling private and family life with working life, special measures for ageing workers, active and healthy ageing policies, sustainable and integrated immigration policies and measures and policies to prevent brain drain.
  • Another baby boom is unlikely, and so it is paramount that labour market participation be improved in order to face the consequences of Europe's demographic situation. The level of unemployment, under-employment and the inactivity rate are too high in too many Member States especially for young people. The EU needs to make combating unemployment a priority.
  • Demographic dynamism also comes down to confidence in the future; this is why the EU needs a strong economy and a strong social policy. The implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights is a very important factor in improving the EU's demographic situation.
  • Having children must not be an obstacle to pursuing a professional career or a reason for impoverishment or the loss of purchasing power especially for large families. It is important to maintain or implement stable and proactive family policy and human-centred labour market policies.
  • Internal mobility is a fundamental freedom of the EU that strengthens European competitiveness and provides opportunity for its citizens. As regards intra-EU mobility and the brain and labour drain related to internal migration, the social and economic upward convergence of Member States is the best answer but this needs time.
  • Immigration alone might not be the solution to Europe's demographic challenge but it can help address it provided that it is accompanied by fair and sustainable integration policies to help newcomers become established and avoid integration difficulties.
  • The COVID-19 crisis will have important implications for the future EU policies addressing demographic challenges and growing inequalities between Member States. The Committee urges the EU to prepare relevant policies with ambitious funding to protect citizens from the detrimental effects of the pandemic and most importantly the economic crisis which will follow, in order to mitigate the negative social impacts.