The European Commission published on June 17, 2020, its Report on the Impact of Demographic Change in the EU. Coordinated by Dubravka Šuica, European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, this report outlines the main challenges of demographic change and maps the future evolutions. It will be used as a basis for the publication at the end of 2020 of an EU Green Paper on Ageing.
Ageing in rural and mountainous
The main drivers of demographic change in Europe identified in the report are linked to the longer life expectancy and decrease of birth rate which lead to a European ageing population. By 2070, 30% of people in Europe are estimated to be aged 65 and above, up from about 20% today.
Demographic forecasts bring new challenges for regions, especially in rural and mountainous areas. Indeed, many rural and mountainous countries, such as Portugal, Greece, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Spain for instance, will experience a major increase of the share of older adults over 65 in their population.
A call for the development of the Silver Economy
Ageing regions, in particular when rural, remote or mountainous, will have to better address older people’s needs in the future. The European Commission’s report in particular highlights the shortage of general practioners in rural areas as well as the lack of long-term care offer for older adults. In addition, since social protection for long-term care does not exist in all Member States, contrary to healthcare protection, the report stresses the risk of further socio-economic exclusion of older generations in the future.
Yet, the report refers to the opportunities offered by the Silver Economy, a sector which can contribute to increase the quality of life of older adults by providing innovative services, including thanks to digitalisation.
“Older consumers account for a large part of the economy and the consumption of people above 50 across the EU was €3.7 trillion in 2015” reminds the Commission in the report. “It is projected to rise at around 5% per year, reaching €5.7 trillion by 2025”.
The Commission’s Green Paper on Ageing will also address how we can make the most of these opportunities. In this regard, SILVER SMEs partners have collected more than 50 good practices across Europe, showcasing how the Silver Economy can improve older adults’ quality of life and how regional policies can better support the sector.
By drawing up a demographic overview, including in rural areas, the Report on the Impact of Demographic Change lays the ground for future action by the European Commission. The reported challenges will be further addressed in the Green Paper on Ageing, expected for late 2020. Transformations for rural areas will also be tackled in the EU long-term vision for rural areas, which should be published in 2021.
Our European partner Euromontana has already contributed to the debate by publishing a note on Ageing in mountain areas and by discussing the issue of ageing and the opportunities arising from the Silver Economy during a meeting with the cabinet of Commission Šuica.