Europe, of course Spain and especially Galicia, faces no small “challenge” with its elders, whose numbers are growing every day. It is estimated that around 30% of the inhabitants live on the Old Continent In 2050 they will exceed 65 years; that is, in less than three decades – in 2021 it was 19%, but global life expectancy has increased from an average of 65 years in the 90s to 73 years today and is expected to reach 86 years. mid-century. A “growing and very important” phenomenon, in view of which Spain, which holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union this semester, wants the 27 to take action on the matter as quickly as possible. On Thursday, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares warned that this was a “reality” already reflected in the present and called for “quick reflection.” He did this from the city of Lugo, the two-day headquarters of the high-level conference on aging that ended this Friday.
The choice of location was no coincidence. Albares emphasized in his speech that this growing proportion of older people “occurs particularly in Galicia and Lugo”, with the average age being “around” 50 years. Of the challenges facing Europe, aging is “noticeable” in the province of Lugo, he added. in a very “tangible” way. The mayor of Lugo, Lara Méndez, put the rate at 20%.
The Foreign Minister spoke of a “major, unprecedented demographic change” this Friday Experts discussed in two specialist panels: the first book dedicated to longevity and demographics on the European agenda; and secondly, the so-called “silver economy” and health problems. Relevant issues are part of what the minister described as a “major change at the demographic level”, the result of a further increase in life expectancy and a further decline in the birth rate.
Life is lengthening and, as he emphasized, this brings with it “challenges and opportunities”; In any case, “demands” Europe to tackle new concepts in tax, economic and labor policy, at the health, welfare and care levels, but also, as the Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, warns, in migration policy.
Active and healthy
From the six-month presidency onwards, the incumbent government wants to promote the commitment to make older people the relevant issues on the European agenda, advocating for measures “in favor of a active and healthy aging which enables “older people” to continue to contribute to the economy and society as before.
Albares is specifically mentioned five questions: digital training to protect older people from internet fraud and prevent social isolation in the face of the “pandemic” of loneliness; promoting active aging; Harness the potential of the silver economy, which is growing at 5% annually, hand in hand with a sector that accumulates two-thirds of savings and “demands leisure, culture and good communication”; employment in rural areas; and health systems and long-term care.
This Friday, the Secretary of State for the European Union, Pascual Navarro, reiterated his boss’s call not only to address these problems, but also to do so quickly. The approach to aging “at European level”, which must be reflected in the next strategic agenda reflected in the EU budget, must not be “delayed further”, he explained. «We can’t wait too long», emphasized Navarro at the end of the conference.
He stressed that the Spanish Presidency intends to present this issue to the General Affairs Council – chaired by Albares and Navarro himself in a ministerial delegation – and that the Foreign Minister, together with the speaker of the conference, has asked for it “Support” to put it on the table given the resistance of some Member States; either because some consider it national or because others view it from an “ideological perspective,” he said. In any case, he stressed that this issue can only be put on the agenda and “resourced” by putting it before the Council, no matter how “difficult” it may be.
Albares emphasized the day before that “Lugo is the starting point», but that the European agenda on aging will not be put on hold after the conclusion of the conference, but must continue to be nourished by “ideas, initiatives and very far-reaching decisions” such as those discussed in the walled city.
The host, the socialist mayor Lara Méndez, wanted to highlight the role of the local units as “main actors” in demographic change when it comes to “mitigating and combating” its most negative effects. The councilor advocated “retaining talent” to “reverse the population pyramid” based on the “ability” to “transform our cities economically.”
In one of the panels, the provincial representative for economic and social development, Pablo Rivera Capón, advocated the province’s senior care center model as “a measure that can be replicated in Europe.” And the government’s sub-delegate in Lugo, Isabel Rodríguez, defended the “impulse” she attributed to the executive branch in addressing the demographic challenge.