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Ageing population - a challenge for the European Union

The demographic change in Europe is a key issue that the European Union has to tackle, and this topic will be more and more present in the EU pollical agenda in the near future as this problematic deals with a lot of different policies: amongst them migrations, social and inclusion issues, economy…  On 26 April 2018 a conference titled "Ageing population - a challenge for the European Union" was organised in Ljubljana, Slovenia. MEP and EDP individual member Ivo VAJGL took the floor as host and his intervention was followed by Sarah EL HAÏRY, Member of the French National Assembly for Loire-Atlantique and Mouvement Démocrate Spokesperson, and Karl ERJAVEC, minister of foreign affairs and vice president of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and president of DeSUS (Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia).

There were also experts who participated at the conference and focused on different dimensions of the long-living society phenomena in their very interesting and revealing presentations. 

In his introductory speech Ivo VAJGL emphasised the importance of the demographic change issue as this is more and more present on the EU political agenda. He mentioned that he and several other Members of the European Parliament have prepared some very resonate conferences and other events, aiming at raising awareness about the importance of tackling the challenges of the long-living society in a comprehensive and strategic manner. 

Sarah EL HAÏRY pointed out that when thinking about challenges of the demographic change in Europe, we must think primarily about designing and introducing measures and policies that will offer support to families where older people live. She also mentioned that there are big differences in ways how EU members are responding to the demographic change, including financial dimension – while France uses 1% of national GDP, Denmark uses 4% of the national GDP for tackling the challenges of the long-living society.

Karl ERJAVEC expressed his satisfaction over the fact that EDP organised the conference in Ljubljana for the second time in the last few years and that it had chosen the topic he find of a great importance – the social position of older people in Slovenia and EU in general.  

In the continuation of the conference the invited experts presented some of their findings and interpretations of research data.

Dr. Daniela VONO DE VILHENA, research scientist and scientific coordinator at Population Europe/ Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, is convinced that the question of demographic change is not unsolvable, but we should better use our potentials that we already have – immigrants, women, older and younger people. We have to invest more in the “human capital” by improving and maintaining cognitive capabilities through the whole life cycle. We should put more effort in decreasing the level of social exclusion and in providing the satisfying level of minimal income for all.

Maciej KUCHARCZYK, policy director at the AGE Platform, concluded his presentation with the thesis that measures, focused exclusively on the return to the economic growth, cause the growing insecurity of different social groups, including some older people sub-groups, and weaken the respect of fundamental human rights. We will have to develop referential budgets for older people in order to be able to better evaluate the adequacy of pensions' amounts in different age-stages and to evaluate the prize-accessibility of services that older people need for their life in dignity.  

Dr. Mitja JERAJ, assistant professor at the GEA College and entrepreneur, who took as example for the European Union the issue on young entrepreneurs in Slovenia, emphasized that we should very well analyse the origins of the problem Slovenia witnesses – a lot of young Slovene entrepreneurs open their businesses in other countries. Thus, for systematic solutions, States are responsible, and they should start with origins, not with consequences of the phenomena.


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