CPR (10) 3 – Part II - The consequences of demographic change for Europe’s regions 1 (08/04/03)

Rapporteur: Lambert J.J. van Nistelrooij (The Netherlands)



1. Introduction

1.1 Background information

The Committee on Social Cohesion of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities decided in 2001 to launch a report on the consequences of demographic evolution.

So far the Congress has not devoted much attention to the issue of the ageing population. It carried out work in 1994 on “Europe and its elderly people: towards a pact between generations”, following the conclusions of the Sienna Conference held in October 1993 on “Europe and its elderly people: the policies of towns and regions – a comparison”. Recommendation 5 adopted in 1994 invited all national, regional and local authorities to devise, prepare and implement public policies in general, and policies adapted to the ageing population in particular, taking an approach based on solidarity between generations.

Local and regional authorities are directly affected by demographic changes. Their attention was raised on that issue, especially in the context of the European Union. This is not just as a result of the continuing demographic trend of dejuvenation and ageing, but also because of setting an agenda on a European scale. For example, ageing in relation to the affordability of pensions has become one of the most important issues in the decades ahead. At the EU-conferences in Nice (2000), Stockholm and Göteborg (2001) it was one of the most important issues. The Committee of the Regions also contributed to this debate. Its Commission for Economic and Social issued an Opinion of the Policy on “Increasing labour force and promoting active ageing” (COM (2002)9) presented by the Rapporteur. The Committee of the Regions and the Congress organised moreover a seminar on “Facing the challenge of an ageing population: local and regional perspectives and practices” (Brussels, November 2002).

Ageing is also an important item for the United Nations2. The Second World Assembly on Ageing took place in Madrid from 8 to 12 April 2002. Here representatives from many countries around the world discussed the consequences of ageing and the future of the elderly from their own perspective. The Assembly was concluded with the adoption by the participants of a ‘Political Statement’ and the ‘Madrid International Action Plan 2002’.

In September 2002 the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) endorsed the findings of the World Assembly at the Regional Conference held in Berlin. The participants adopted the regional Implementation Strategy of Madrid, which supports the aim to include the challenge of ageing in all domains of policy. Priority has been given to the following matters :

· The participation and independence of elderly people.
· Stimulating economic growth to be able to meet the consequences of ageing.
· Reinforcing social security for current and future generations.
· Deploying the human capital of the elderly in the labour market.
· Promoting life-long learning.
· Improving life-long health and wellbeing.
· Ensuring equal access to health and welfare facilities.
· Introducing a gender approach in the entire policy on the aged.
· Supporting volunteer care.
· Promoting inter-generational solidarity.

In view of the increasing ageing population and its effects on society, the European Population Committee and other organisations are performing specific studies and making recommendations where possible. In line with the priorities set in Berlin, the study on “Active Ageing” (Avramov and Maskowa, 2002) was published recently. This study is focusing on the ability of elderly people to organise their own lives and on the possible support that can be provided3.

Acknowledging that ageing will not only have an enormous impact on the affordability of old-age pensions, but also bring about major changes in our society and in many aspects of our daily life in the coming decades, the Committee on Social Cohesion of the Chamber of the Regions decided to launch this report.

The initial focus of this report, called “The consequences of demographic change for Europe’s Regions”, was the following subjects.

· Main trends of demographic changes in the Council of Europe Member States.
· Brief analysis of the impact of demographic changes on regional policies (in terms of health, housing, social care, etc.), taking into account the diverse competencies that European regions have.
· Role of regional authorities in promoting social cohesion through intergenerational co-operation and creating favourable conditions to cope with these demographic changes and promote active ageing of population.
· Role of a partnership between regional authorities to enhance the exchange of good practices.

1.2 Method and content of the report

Taking into account the work carried out by the Council of Europe and especially the Directorate General of Social Cohesion in the field of population and demographic matters, the objectives and guidelines of the report were presented by the Rapporteur to and discussed by the members of the European Population Committee, which is made up of experts on demography from Council of Europe member states. The Committee on Social Cohesion of the Congress moreover heard in March 2002 Robert Cliquet, then Chair of the European Population Committee (EPC). The Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) was commissioned by the Congress to perform a quickscan into the availability of regional demographic data in Europe (see appendix 1). The Rapporteur would like to express here his thanks to the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and Institute for development and advice (PON) as well as to the European Population Committee and its Secretariat for their useful contribution to the drafting of this report.

The scan showed that there are large differences in the availability and reliability of regional demographic figures. This means that it is not possible to give an impression of the regional demographic developments in the Member States of the Council of Europe. Such an impression would be incomplete as well as incorrect as far as the number of regions is concerned. It is obvious that the correct figures must be made available and that this will also require a commitment from regional authorities. After all, in the absence of reliable figures it seems difficult to arrive at a good policy. The findings of the NIDI are discussed in further detail in Chapter 2.

Although it is therefore not possible to provide an unambiguous and complete picture of regional demographic developments in Europe it is possible to identify a general trend. Eurostat and the NIDI, for example, have conducted studies into this field. The results of these studies are discussed briefly in Chapter 3.

Chapter 4 contains a brief analysis of the consequences of this for regional policy. Here, the focus is on the consequences of ageing in particular for a number of policy areas. Increasing ageing will, for example, have an impact on the labour market, housing and healthcare.

Naturally, whether or not regional authorities respond actively to demographic developments also depends on their tasks and authorisations. It is impossible however to chart all the tasks and authorisations of the regions of the Member States of the Council of Europe within the framework of this study. And all the more so as demographic developments influence numerous areas of policy.

This does not detract from the fact that in general it is certainly possible to actively respond to the social consequences of ageing. The Dutch province of Noord-Brabant has had good experience of this since the 1990s. On the basis of this experience, the Institute for development and advice of Noord-Brabant has recorded the methodology applied during this period. This is discussed in Chapter 5. The description of the methodology shows that regional authorities have excellent opportunities to respond actively to ageing together with the parties involved. Naturally this goes hand in hand with the competencies of the regional authorities, and is also in relation to the competencies of the local and national authorities, although such competencies are not of over-riding importance. Own initiative and the will to work together and invest in a policy for the elderly are equally important.

2. The availability of regional demographic data in Europe : results of the NIDI quickscan

In order to gain insight into regional demographic developments in the Member States of the Council of Europe, the NIDI was asked – with the assistance of the European Population Committee - to examine the possibilities. In January 2003 this resulted in “The availability of regional demographic data in Europe – a quickscan”.

The NIDI arrived at the following results and conclusion on the basis of the quickscan (see Appendix 1 for the tables).

· All 44 Member States of the Council of Europe are annually collecting, processing and disseminating statistical information on (changes in) the size, gender and age structure of the population. Basic sources are population censuses and registers.

· The Council of Europe as well as other international organisations such as Eurostat and the United Nations are requesting and receiving a subset of this demographic information through annual questionnaires. Until now all international organisations except Eurostat are collecting national demographic data only. The Council of Europe's report on "Recent demographic developments in Europe" covers all its 44 member states, and 2 non-member states.

· Eurostat is sending its annual regional demographic questionnaire to 15 EU Member States, 13 EU Candidate Countries except Turkey and 4 EFTA Countries. This implies that at least 15 European countries are not participating in any regular or annual regional demographic data collection programme, and therefore one would not find any (centralised) regional demographic database for Europe as a whole.

· The current Eurostat questionnaire, introduced in 1995 (with a special request to submit data from 1990 onwards), comprises detailed information on both the gender and age structure of the population and the changes in the size and structure of the population due to fertility, mortality, internal migration and international migration at so called NUTS-2 level. Furthermore, some key population data are requested at NUTS-3 level. (The NUTS-classification is the nomenclature of territorial units for statistics: a geographical division used by the European Commission).

· During the period 1980-1994 Eurostat has been using a less detailed questionnaire; for example no information was collected on regional international migration. Moreover, the regional demographic data collection for the 12 EU Candidate Countries and 4 EFTA Countries has been started in 1999 (with a special request to submit data from 1990 onwards).

· Eurostat is also the only international agency that systematically collects regional demographic information based on the (latest) population census. The regional statistical information demographic results of the 2000/2001 population census round are expected during Summer/Autumn 2003.

· In addition, Eurostat is the only international institute in Europe that regularly produces internationally consistent long-term regional population projections. The latest set, compiled and published in 1996-1997, covers the period 1995-2025 and projects the population by sex and age at NUTS-2 level of the 15 EU countries; an extension of this set for the 13 EU Candidate Countries but Turkey is foreseen for Autumn 2003; the revision of the complete set of long-term regional demographic projections (including labour force projections) is planned for 2004, when all national and regional population census 2000/2001 results are processed and stored.

· Based upon recent documentation of Eurostat, supplemented with information from some national sources, there are currently at least 437 NUTS-2 (or similar type of) regions in Europe, of which 211 in the EU and 63 in the 13 EU Candidate Countries (see Appendix 1: Table 1). Nineteen European countries seem to possess no regions at NUTS-2 level. Some countries have changed their NUTS classification during the 1980s and 1990s. Finally, average regional population sizes per country vary considerably: from 615 thousands persons in Azerbaijan to 8.1 million in Turkey.

· In most EU countries regional data on population by gender and five year groups are generally available for the period 1980-2001 (see Appendix 1: Table 2); data series on population by gender and single years of age start in 1990 in most cases; for the group of 7 EU Candidate Countries and 2 EFTA countries with NUTS-2 regions the data series are far from complete; for the other European countries only national population data seem to be currently available at Eurostat and the Council of Europe.

· Regional data series on live births by age of the mother (needed to calculate total fertility rate) do not start before 1990 (see Appendix 1: Table 3). Again regional time series are only available for most of the EU countries and some EU Candidate Countries.

· Regional series on infant mortality rates and deaths by gender and five age group are available since 1987 and 1983 respectively (see Appendix 1: Tables 4 and 5). Once again not all European countries are covered.

· Gathering statistical information on internal migration and international migration at regional level in Europe seems to be the most difficult task: not more than 8 EU countries have supplied regional migration data series by sex and age group (see Appendix 1: Tables 6-10).

· Table 11 shows the possibilities for calculating principal regional demographic indicators for the recent past: for the EU-28 the situation does not look too bad, but for most of the other European countries no quickly or easily available statistics can be expected.

· Table 12 demonstrates that regional population projections are currently only available for EU-15, Norway and the Russian Federation.

Based on the findings of the NIDI, the general conclusion is that large differences exist between the availability, reliability and comparability of regional demographic data within the Member States of the Council of Europe. This makes it difficult and, from a scientific point of view, even impossible to arrive at good regional demographic forecasts.

It is therefore worth recommending that consensus be reached at European level on the availability of demographic data. This consensus must contribute to the comprehensiveness and reliability of regional demographic data. These data must also be widely available and accessible. After all, they form the foundation and building blocks for policies in various areas.

Eurostat and the European Population Committee should play an important role in the execution. Regional authorities could promote that these demographic data also actually do become available. After all, it is also in their own interest to have access to reliable data.

3. Dejuvenation and ageing in Europe and its consequences

Although the results of the quickscan could lead the NIDI to conclude that it is not possible at present to give a precise picture of the current demographic developments in Europe, a general impression can nevertheless be given.

For this purpose, the study “Orientation on demographic developments in Europe” performed by the NIDI in 2000 is used. This study examines the demographic developments in the regions that were part of the European Union in 1999. And although not all Member States of the Council of Europe were included in the study by any means, the trend in dejuvenation and ageing, and the regional differences that occur, have been clearly identified.

Demographic developments in dejuvenation and ageing are also taking place in the candidate Member States of the European Union. At this time however it is not possible to reach any conclusions about any regional differences that may exist.

The European population is therefore rapidly become older. In most European regions (NUTS 2) the number of people aged 60 and older will double in the next 30 years. Furthermore, the number 80+ will increase substantially. The increase in the number of elderly in the European regions will have serious consequences for the social security system, the labour market, healthcare, pension schemes and the housing market.

The following impression can be given of healthcare in Europe. The number of elderly people living at home is increasing in virtually all European regions. This increases the pressure on informal and professional domiciliary care, while the number of residential facilities increases concomitantly. The number of long-stay beds in hospitals and the number of places for psycho-geriatric patients and the associated demand for care will increase as a result of the fact that the population will live longer. These examples demonstrate that the financial pressure on the various care system will increase.

But the continuance of pensions and old-age facilities are also coming under pressure as the ratio between working and non-working individuals starts to shift. As a result, issues concerning mutual solidarity between the generations will start appearing more dominantly on the political agenda. To this respect, the work of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly ought to be mentioned4.

An ageing population will not only affect healthcare and pension systems. The consequences for other areas can also be far-reaching. Dejuvenation, for instance, will each year reduce the supply of young people on the labour market. This could lead to tension on the labour market, competition between the various sectors and hamper further growth. Already the ageing population is boosting demand for care and nursing. Experience has taught that in a time of strong economic growth fewer young people opt for a job in the healthcare sector.

From this follow further issues regarding labour migration, both inside Europe and between Europe and Africa and Asia in particular. Businesses, public authorities and healthcare institutions will be faced with a higher percentage of older employees. They will have to adjust their personnel policy so that their older employees do not leave the labour process earlier due to employment disability.

Older people are demanding a more active role in society and are making new demands in the fields of recreation, education, accommodation and health services. And in this way all regions in Europe will have to deal with the consequences of the demographic developments of dejuvenation and ageing. They will have to face the challenge of finding answers to the many changes that will result.

The Committee of Social Cohesion of the Chamber of the Regions acknowledges that ageing does not affect all groups of society in the same ways. Women and migrants for example have to face specific problems. Too little information is available on older migrants and their specific needs. While the ‘young old’ are still experiencing active ageing, the pursuance of activities becomes more cumbersome beyond the age of 80 years. Help in daily activities and the need for care become more dominant. Family care, ambulant, residential and institutional care are various options for the support of the very oldest. It is therefore welcome that the European Population Committee will devote special attention to the issue of the “oldest old” and the elderly migrants in the framework of its activities devoted to active ageing.

It also seems useful to study the relationship between economic growth and birth rates, particularly in the countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe studies have been performed that show a link between the social-economic situation and the desired versus actually born number of children. At this stage, need would be to investigate about the conduct of such studies in Central and Eastern Europe.

This survey does not deal explicitly with the precise consequences of all these areas of policy. That would be a futile exercise. The structure and composition of the population is one of the factors that determine social developments as described above. But economic, technological and socio-cultural developments also play a role and these are even more difficult to predict.

Furthermore regional diversity in Europe also plays an important role. In Europe, and even in countries within Europe, there are large differences in demographic developments. The study performed by the NIDI demonstrated this. But the consequences of these will also be different in each region and also depend on the size and density of the population in a particular region, the distribution of the population in that region as well as the socio-economic and cultural situation. A region such as Ile de France, with a metropolis such as Paris, cannot be compared with a vast and thinly populated region such as Jämtland in Sweden.

4. Opportunities for a regional policy

Precisely because there are large regional differences in Europe, and also within any one country, regional authorities have the opportunity of adopting their own regional approach. Regional administrations can therefore fulfil an important role. This not only depends on the regional competencies, tasks and authorisations of the regional government, but also on the ambitions of the regional authorities.

This chapter contains a (methodical) analysis of the way in which regional authorities can prepare for these demographic developments. The opportunities that can be seized by the regional authorities, the various roles that can be played and the creation of the conditions needed to pursue a solid policy are discussed in this chapter. It is obvious that the availability or lack of financial resources will play a large role in setting the level of ambitions in advance.

In the analysis, a number of steps are distinguished in general terms, thus regardless of the competencies held by the regional authorities.

4.1 Theoretical framework for policy

The first step: awareness.

It is essential to seek a good response to the consequences of dejuvenation and ageing. Responsibilities for the policy do not rest solely with the national government. Local and regional authorities also have their autonomous responsibilities – therefore independent of their statutory tasks and authorisations. They will therefore have to anticipate the developments that an ageing society will present.

The wishes and needs of the people concerned must be the key issue in this paradigm. Only then will all the citizens of Europe be able to identify with the aim of the European Union in its concept of full citizenship. A preventive and pro-active policy is needed. Regions and citizens as well as public and private organisations will have to invest in a sustainable European society in which the role of the active senior is given a prominent place.

The question where to start with developing a policy geared to the consequences of demographic developments is a difficult one to answer. Solutions and answers can only be considered when the various echelons of government and other public and private organisations recognise that there is a question and/or a problem and that there is a need to find a solution. Often a broad-based sense of urgency can open doors.

Policy therefore actually starts with a kind of awareness-raising process. Some policy issues have a brief preparatory time because a problem suddenly arises (such a sudden influx of refugees). Other policy issues have a longer preparatory time with the result the possible problems are not always recognised at the right moment. The consequences of ageing fall in the latter category of policy issues. In many regions in Europe, the consequences of ageing will only become palpable in fifteen years’ time. This does not detract from the fact that everyone involved should already start thinking about the policy that is to be pursued. Each organisation has its own ‘entrepreneurs’ who usually take the lead in recognising certain developments. This also applies to ageing. These entrepreneurs see it as a challenge to get their findings placed high on the political-administrative agenda.

The second step: structuring the issue

The awareness phase will have to be followed by the second step: structuring. This involves identifying the developments, whether or not these are defined as a ‘problem’. Regional authorities can ask themselves questions such as those below.

    · Do we as regional authorities have sufficient insight into the scope of the issue?
    · Is it a problem that is relevant to society?
    · Is sufficient and reliable information available?
    · Can we as regional authorities contribute to dealing with the issue?
    · Does the issue require an operational or strategic approach?
    · Which (policy) alternatives are available in the immediate vicinity?

Regional authorities can reach a decision on the basis of this first analysis: must we develop a policy or is it preferable to do nothing? Continuing with the policy development means that a university or knowledge institute, for example, should be involved in conducting further research into the segments on which insufficient information is available. Sometimes a commission is appointed to map out the policy problem and to make recommendations for follow-up research and policy solutions. At that point more attention is devoted to the policy problem as identified by a small group of entrepreneurs. Often media such as newspapers and television will focus attention on the topic during this phase because it is newsworthy. This in turn attracts the attention of a broader public.

The third step: creating support

It is extremely important that the policy to be pursued can rely on the support of the various relevant players. They are often the ones who have to implement the policy frameworks. The regional authorities can play a significant stimulating role in this. They must be able to create the conditions that are necessary for a favourable climate for policy development. A project programme is a good instrument with which to create these conditions. Interested parties can start up targeted (development) projects and receive (some) financial support. This means that policy implementation takes place in close proximity to the people themselves. This makes it palpable and visible and thereby strengthens the foundation of the policy.

The fourth step: implementation of the policy and the role of the regional authorities

As soon as the (future) issue has been analysed and the possible policy alternatives have been decided, the time has come to consider which policy lines must be used and what role is to be played by the regional authorities. Regional authorities can play different roles.

The regional authorities as coordinator

Regional authorities are the designated body to promote the alignment and integration of the various fields of policy and to respond effectively to the consequences of ageing and dejuvenation. The task of the regional authorities to bring about cohesiveness in the various fields of the policy through coordination is not always embedded in legislation however. The possibility to perform this task therefore effectively depends on the goodwill of other players.

The regional authorities as creator of conditions

In this role, the regional authorities create conditions in which all participants can contribute optimally to the development of the necessary policy line. The regional authorities create the framework within which policy must be developed. If, for example, the issue of the elderly becomes the focal point - an issue which as a result of the increasing ageing and emancipation of the European citizen has become undisputed by now - this means that an integral policy on ageing must be implemented in several areas (such as housing, welfare, care, and traffic and transport). The regional authorities can play an important role here.

The regional authorities as facilitator

In this role, it is important that the regional authorities bring the main stakeholders together and allow them to implement the policy that is to be pursued within the framework of the set playing field. In this role, the regional authorities play a facilitary role in bringing the interested parties together and keeping them together. The main issue is that the rules within the policy is to be implemented are respected.

The fifth step: monitoring the policy line

The policy that is implemented evolves over time. This means that within the policy cycle of the regional authorities it must be possible to monitor developments, that the projects are assessed on their content, progress and development. During the monitoring phase, the policy actions within the projects must be examined explicitly. Initially the policy outcome of these projects is not yet the issue. Monitoring can lead to interim adjustments to the project policy and recommendations are made for policy outcomes. This concerns the practical side of the matter.

The sixth step: evaluation of the policy line

During the final phase of the policy cycle, the policy outcomes are tested against the pursued policy line. Do these outcomes meet the expectations set in advance? Is there any reason to alter the pursued policy line on the basis of the outcomes in practice? These two questions form the core of the outcomes of the evaluation phase.

The steps described in this chapter can be summarised in the policy cycle show below. It consists of four phases: performance, futures, actions and outcomes.

The way in which the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant has developed its regional senior policy is described in Appendix 2. Appendix 3 contains the product catalogue of the project Vitality in Age.

4.2 European solidarity through regional partnership

As mentioned previously, there are large differences in the extent to which demographic developments manifest themselves within the various regions and sometimes even in one and the same country. Some regions already have a large senior population while others will be facing that in the decades ahead. There are regions that are already struggling with shortages on the labour market while others are still coping with high unemployment.

The future is surrounded by many uncertainties. It is difficult to predict how a regional economy will develop in the future. Information and communication technology, the Internet and e-commerce will have a major impact on our society, but exactly how? It is also not clear what the influence future migration processes will have on regional population structures. And what role will the next generation of senior citizens take upon itself in a strongly aged society?

Nevertheless, European regions will have to face the challenge of finding suitable answers to the consequences that will be a logical consequence of demographic developments. This means that regional authorities will have to cooperate with other public and private organisations to prepare for the developments that are taking place in their region. In addition, the joint concept of European solidarity and European citizenship must also be developed. It will require alignment and consultation between the European regions for this process to be developed effectively.

4.2.1 Current consultative structures

Several meeting places are already available for the European regions within Europe. Virtually all the European regions are part of a consultative structure and usually participate in several. These Committees and Assemblies are primarily intended as meeting places. In general however they are too big for the direct exchange of knowledge, experience and ideas to arrive at a vision of new policy fields. As a result, many forms of European projects are developed around a specific theme in which the regions can participate.

European regions are facing similar policy issues, although the consequences of the demographic developments are not equally tangible in all regions at the same time. This makes it possible for them to utilise each other’s expertise to gain new insights into ways of handling their own problems. A number of conditions are indispensable for this however, a few of which we mention below.

The concept of the learning region:

Regional authorities must first open themselves to the possibility of learning from each other. Regions must realise that they can benefit from exchanging knowledge and experience. Good and bad practices of other regions provide insight into what is and what is not desirable in the own region. Own ideas can also be tested and defined more specifically by checking whether they have been developed and implemented elsewhere.

The region as network broker

Regional authorities are eminently suitable to operate as a network broker. On the one hand, because they participate in many networks in their own region. On the other hand, because they participate in various consultative structures at European level. The strength of regional authorities lies in the fact that they can build bridges between developments in their own region and developments in Europe.

The region as the driving force behind data collection

In order to meet the aforementioned conditions, it is important that the regions have insight into their own demographic developments. Demographic data can serve as the basis for a regional policy, whereby the social relevance is demonstrated. The historical element plays an important role in the collection of data: the data must not only be relevant to the current policy but also to the past and future expectations. As described in Chapter 2, this is by no means general practice in Europe as yet.

The region as the platform for setting the agenda for the present and the future

The data to be collected by the regions must ultimately serve to reflect the social state of affairs and the main developments. These factors set the agenda for the content of the partnership of the European regions. The regions themselves indicate the themes in which they want to invest in the coming years, what their own area of expertise is and in which areas they need to rely on the expertise of others. In this way a fruitful basis is created for intensive cooperation between the European regions.

Small-scale meeting places

Cooperation, exchange of knowledge and experience and learning from each other: the partnership of European regions gains shape and content when opportunities are offered to meet each other. It is important in this context to set up small-scale meeting places by organising them on the basis of themes and projects. This allows regional authorities to decide where they can offer their expertise and/or make use of the expertise of others.

Partnership between European regional authorities will gain shape and content when the aforementioned conditions are met. There are only a few examples of such partnerships in Europe. An extensive description of the network organisation ALIVE is given in Appendix 4.

4.3 Recommendations

Following recommendations could be drawn from the above-mentioned facts:

Recommendations for the regional authorities

· Give the entrepreneurs in the regional government the leeway they need. They fulfil an important identifying function.

· Make sure that there is sufficient support by involving third parties in the development and implementation of the policy.

· Provide adequate demographic facts and figures. Stimulate developments that are geared to uncovering this information.

· Ageing does not only affect older people. Therefore also involve the next generation of seniors (45+) in the development and implementation of policy in addition to the current generation of seniors. After all, the consequences of the demographic developments concern them as well.

· Take an integral approach to the consequences of ageing and dejuvenation. Topics such as healthcare, informal care, public housing and labour market policy have a direct and an indirect relationship with each other.

Recommendations for the European partnership

· It is essential that the position of the regional authorities be strengthened. The regional level is the best place to undertake concrete action to give substance to the consequences of demographic developments.

· Take a look beyond own regional borders. There are regions in Europe that are currently undergoing demographic developments that others will only be encountering in ten to fifteen years. Therefore it is important to learn from each other so that we do not have to keep re-inventing the wheel.

· It takes a long time to develop a policy based on demographic developments. It should therefore always have a place on the political agenda.

· Make sure that the data are accurate so that comparisons are easily made between different regions and support organisations, such as Eurostat, which collect these data. Besides demographic data, data on social and welfare aspects are often lacking.

· Create and invest in meeting places for regions that support the concept of ‘The learning region’.

· Support further studies into the consequences of dejuvenation and ageing as currently being conducted by the European Population Committee and others and make active use of the findings of such studies.


The consequences of demographic change will necessarily affect the agendas of local and regional authorities of Europe. The Council of Europe has a key role to play to assess to what extent these changes will need to be incorporated in macro policies. At local and regional levels, there is obviously a need to raise the awareness of the elected representatives and give them the means, ie reliable statistics, competencies and financial resources, to anticipate the consequences of these changes in many fields of actions : housing, care, labour, life-long education, etc. The recommendations and resolution submitted to the Congress by the Committee on Social Cohesion give a preliminary overview of possible initiatives that can be undertaken. The good practices listed in the appendices 2,3 and 4 of this report shall also be a source of inspiration.

The consequences of demographic changes are not only a matter of technical adjustments of infrastructures and equipments. They must also be considered in their sociological assumption: ensuring the social inclusion of all groups of society is a matter of, a requirement for social cohesion. Therefore local and regional authorities must think about appropriate ways to include the “‘young old’ (aged 60 – 79 years) and the ‘oldest old’ (aged 80 years and older) in the making of society. The committee on social cohesion of the congress will be called to continue to investigation on this issue.

1 Approved unanimously by the Committee on Social Cohesion of the Chamber of Regions on 13 March 2003.

2 See : http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/ageing/index

3 Further information on the EPC activities is available on the Council of Europe Website

4 See in particular the Parliamentary Assembly’s Recommendation 1591 (2003) and Mr Gyula Hegyi’s report on “Challenges of social policy in our ageing societies” (Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee)



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