The European Commission has adopted its first-ever Report on the Impact of Demographic Change, published on 17 June 2020. The report shows the long-term demographic trends in Europe and the drivers of this long-term change, with the impact it is having across Europe. It also highlights the links between demographic structures and the impact and recovery potential from the crisis.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic changed Europe and the world within the blink of an eye. It tested our healthcare and welfare systems, as well as our economic and social resilience. It will leave a lasting impact on the way we live and work together – even once the virus has disappeared. And it struck at a time when Europe had already been going through a period of profound transformation through climate, societal and demographic change.
Demographic change is about people and their lives. It is about what we do, how we work and where we call home. It is about our communities and the way we all live together. It is about embracing the variety of people and backgrounds that enrich and shape our societies, make us stronger and bring to life the EU’s motto, United in Diversity.
This is more needed than ever. As we slowly and cautiously emerge from the lockdowns imposed across Europe, we are reminded of the importance of understanding and responding to the impact that demographic change has on our society. This work will have to be factored into Europe’s recovery and lessons learnt – be it on the social and economic dimension, or on health and long-term care and much more besides. Vice President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, said: “The crisis has exposed many vulnerabilities, some of which are linked to the profound demographic change already affecting our societies and communities across Europe. This double challenge must help shape the way we think about healthcare, welfare, public budgets and public life in the next decades. It must help us tackle issues such as access to services, community care and even loneliness. This is ultimately about the way we live together. Addressing demographic change is key to building a fairer and more resilient society.”
The report kick-starts the work on impacts of demographic change
The report shows long-term demographic trends in Europe's regions - from longer life expectancy, to lower birth rates, ageing societies, smaller households and increasing urbanisation. It also shows Europe's declining share of global population - expected to account for less than 4% of the world's population by 2070. The report illustrates the considerable differences in demographic change across regions, as well as the need to address its impact on growth and sustainability, employment, health and long-term care in different parts of Europe. The report kick-starts this Commission's work in this area and will help identify how the people, regions and communities most affected can best be supported. It will notably provide the foundation for the upcoming Green Paper on Ageing and Long-term Vision for Rural Areas.
The report is complemented with country fact sheets and a full statistical breakdown, which can be found on the Commission's new dedicated webpage on demography.