For some years already, Europe has put demography high on its agenda.
In spring 2021, the European Commission published a Green Paper intended to stimulate a discussion on demographics and ageing in Europe. A 12-week consultation followed. Now closed, the consultation results should help the Commission to formulate possible policy directions in the future.
The paper opened up a broad debate. It facilitated a general look at ageing from an entire life-cycle approach. It emphasised that what happens to people in early childhood and young adulthood can affect them for the rest of their lives. Hence, it examined intergenerational approaches to support; education and training; the working-age population – productivity, innovation, and business opportunities; and retirement and pensions. It also cast an eye on the territorial differences between places around Europe, and the effects of migration on demographics.
Specific elements of the green paper focused on digital connectivity – for example, the opportunities offered by ‘digital’ for quality education, training, and telework, as well as access to systems and services.
Particularly in terms of long-term care and integration of care, the paper highlighted the avoidance of unnecessary hospitalisations; the importance of smart homes; and the need to pay attention to both rural and urban areas, infrastructures, and enhanced transportation.
As one of its almost 20 questions posed, the European Commission asked about possible changes that could have interesting implications for health and care services:
“How can older people reap the benefits of the digitalisation of mobility and health services? How can the accessibility, availability, affordability and safety of public transport options for older persons, notably in rural and remote areas, be improved?”:
Opportunities are certainly available to reap the benefits of digitisation. Generally, it is possible that responses to the consultation may emphasise the ongoing need to face a number of outstanding challenges:
- Tackle the risks of the digital divide and “digital poverty”.
- Improve “digital literacy”.
- Place a continuing focus on standards and guidelines for good, clean, and fair technologies.
Europeans can look forward to seeing how an emphasis on long-term sustainable policy choices can be “to the benefit of every age”. Such an approach should help to shape not only future European policy on the European continent, but also in the context of a wider, global setting.
For more background on this interesting green paper, visit this page.
Have a look at the green paper here.