Demographic change can pose a major challenge for the EU. Regions with a rapidly shrinking population are affected by a severe gap in the provision of social services (healthcare, cultural), physical (transport) and ICT connectivity, education and labour opportunities.
Depopulated regions are often low-income rural or post-industrial areas, with fewer job opportunities. The exodus of younger, skilled workers has further affected ageing, generation renewal and agricultural development. The economic crisis of 2008 led to young educated professionals from Southern and Eastern Europe moving to North-Western Europe. The Covid-19 crisis is likely to encourage this trend. Reduced economic activity and unemployment are expected to generate a new wave of migration by young people both within and between EU countries.
The European Parliament wants the demographic challenge to be a priority for the EU, alongside climate issues and the digital transition. A coordinated approach - integrating the principles of sustainability, greening and digitalisation across different EU policies - would also contribute to reversing negative demographic trends.