Demographic change is one of the biggest challenges facing European regions and cities. Regions that lose population tend to be rural, already sparsely populated and remote. Other regions affected by depopulation trends include industrial areas and various peripheral towns.

Such phenomenon is leaving a negative impact on various aspects including innovation, the economy and the environment of European villages, cities, islands and regions. The loss of young people, in particular, presents an extraordinary disadvantage for smaller municipalities in terms of maintaining essential public services and boosting economic and productive activity in these areas. Such factors are essential to retain a stable population. The demographic revitalization is thus crucial to reverse such negative trends.

In today’s SEDEC Commission meeting, rapporteur János Ádám KARÁCSONY’s (EPP/HU) presented a draft opinion on Demographic change: proposals on measuring and tackling its negative effects in EU regions which welcomes the initiative of the Croatian Council Presidency, the Commission and the Parliament to put demographic change high on the EU agenda.

His opinion calls for further support for young families to increase the fertility rates in the affected regions; increasing the attractiveness of regions for students by dedicated investment in culture and connectivity and developing dedicated incentives schemes for young people to return to their regions and start a family. Other policy actions proposed include reducing the inactive labour force through work life balance measures, social and family-friendly infrastructure and more gender equality together with reducing the health and caring costs of ageing societies by investing in new forms of independent living (new concepts of housing).

Furthermore, it has been stressed that in the context of ongoing discussions on the Multiannual Financial Framework, there must be a comprehensive budgetary response to the demographic challenge in all relevant EU programmes and policies. In addition, the rapporteur sees the need to discuss, at the future Conference on the Future of Europe, the link between democracy and demography and suggests to elaborate a specific position paper on this topic for the conference.

The draft opinion received positive feedback and was adopted by members of the SEDEC Commission during today’s meeting. It is now scheduled to be adopted in March 2020 at the Plenary session of the CoR.

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