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EU-28

12 October 2018

EU: The EC’s Ageing Report and the need to develop a rights-based approach to ageing

The European Commission’s 2018 Ageing Report looks at the long-run economic and fiscal implications of Europe's ageing population. It is published with cross-country tables and separate country summaries. The forecasts a substantial decrease of the working-age population. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights recommends a rights-based policy approach to ageing in the EU.

The 2018 Ageing Report: Economic and Budgetary Projections for the EU Member States (2016-2070), prepared by the services of the European Commission, provides an analysis of updated population projections and estimates the long-term economic and budgetary impact of the ageing of the European population in order to produce long-term budgetary projections. On the basis of these estimations and methodologies, age-related expenditures covering pensions, health care, long-term care, education and unemployment benefits can be calculated. The 2018 Ageing Report is published with a series of interesting annexes (cross country tables, country fiches and country reports).

The report is published every three years by the Ageing Working Group of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) based on a mandate by the Council. It complements the analysis of the 2018 Pension Adequacy Report (see ReformsWatch 3 May 2018) that assessed how past key reform measures aimed at securing adequate and financially sustainable pensions. According to the ageing report, fiscal costs linked to pensions, health care and long-term care are expected to rise over the coming decades as Europe’s population continues to age significantly.

The report calculates an increase of the total EU-population from 511 million in 2016 to 520 million citizens in 2070. On the other hand, the working-age population (people aged between 15 and 64) is expected to decrease significantly from 333 million in 2016 to 292 million in 2070. Projected changes in the population structure reflect assumptions on fertility rates, life expectancy and migration flows. The evolution of ageing-related costs, will vary widely among Member States, with costs expecting to fall in 8 Member States (Greece, Croatia, France, Latvia, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania and Spain); to increase by up to 3 percentage points of GDP in 10 Member States (Portugal, Denmark, Cyprus, Poland, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia); and to increase by more than 3 percentage points in the remaining 10 Member States (Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta and Luxembourg).

Critics have alleged that current policies focus too much on the physical or mental ‘deficits’ individuals accumulate as they age and on how their ‘needs’ should be met by state and society, neglecting older people’s contribution to society. In the Shifting perceptions: towards a rights‑based approach to ageing report, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights formulates proposals towards a rights-based approach to ageing in the EU. Optimising opportunities for, and combating discrimination against, older people who can and wish to remain in work for longer should be complemented with sufficient instruments addressing the support needs of older people.

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