EU investment to tackle the corona pandemic provides a basis for demographic change

Euro with miniature figurines. European investment today, will determine the future of European citizens. Taken by Claudio Centonze (16.01.2020), Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

The Corona crisis is currently mercilessly highlighting the social, economic, and health policy weaknesses of every country. It also points to a trend that has been observed for almost 60 years, demographic change. The investments made to deal with the corona pandemic are also crucial to the measures to deal with the demographic change of the EU population.

May 5th 2020

By Andreas Würtz Adamsen and Caroline Kleine-Besten

In a written interview, Vice-President for Demography and Democracy Dubravka Šuica sums it up in a nutshell: „The current COVID-19 pandemic is closely intertwined with the demographic situation of Europe: we are an ageing continent, and the elderly are among those most at risk to this novel coronavirus. The current crisis is affecting our labour markets, gives a new perspective to the rural vs. urban situation, and is showing the efforts and resources we need to put into inter-generational solidarity, our health and care systems.”

In particular, it addresses the problem that an ageing population in Europe, the disparities between young and old, the associated migration to economically strong regions and thus ultimately the gap between rich and poor in Europe is likely to increase.

Fact box: Support for EU regions is promoted as part of a broader EU investment strategy by the European structural and investment funds (ESI funds). (Source: EPRS report 2019)

The Commissioner emphasises that the investments now being made as a result of the Corona crisis must be made on the basis of demographic developments: “Demography […]  is the underpinning force of all of our objectives. […] Without paying attention to the demographic trends in Europe, we risk proposing measures which do not match with the realities we have on the ground.”

Nevertheless, it is also clear to her that the investments that will be made by the EU in the next period will be crucial for the recovery process after the corona pandemic.

However, Derek Beach, professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, emphasises that the money of several EU funds that is currently used to combat the crisis will eventually be lacking in other areas that are also related to demographic change, such as the green transition: “The European Union has basically no money the budget is 1% of GDP roughly which is nothing […] what we are looking at now is that we are going to having to help out countries like Italy and Spain so […] unless the budget [for the green transition]  is increased it is going to have to be significantly decreased”.

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