The CE-Ageing Platform Strategy finalized by the end of October 2013

Over the next decades Central Europe will face unprecedented demographic challenges such as an ageing and shrinking population and ‘ageing regions’ due to demographic factors such as greater life expectancy and decreased fertility of CE citizens, just to name some. It is the CE-Platform’s belief that the required policies changes should be implemented in cooperation with stakeholders: a multi-governance matrix is needed in which various perspectives are integrated and efforts as well as responsibilities jointly taken to build a desirable future.

Based on the development of a CE-Ageing Vision, the CE-Ageing Platform identified current challenges and potentials in respect to demographic change, developed trends and scenarios for CE, and established recommendations for policy change; all of which are presented in the green paper “Central European Ageing Strategy”. Starting in February 2013 the Strategy was consulted online and during intensive face-to-face meetings until September 2013 within CE regions. The Strategy was regarded by consulting parties to cover all important issues with the major areas being well defined. The main target course of the paper was agreed by an overwhelming majority of respondents. The four major areas of concern, i.e. employability, migration, family and healthy ageing are regarded as being of great importance. Suggestions for improvement concern setting a shorter timeframe for the vision (2030 instead 2050), strengthening the importance of learning for the older generation and emphasizing the role of employers in the region and their importance for the well-being. Though some CE partners strongly endeavour to encourage the consultation of the green paper, too few contributions were received in order to publish a white paper. The Strategy, hence, will be published as “CE Ageing Platform Strategy” including the consultation results by the end of 2013.

The Strategy covers a wide range of policy interventions aiming at sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. The recommendations link policies horizontally but also vertically, i.e. local and regional actions go hand in hand with policy changes at the national and international levels. The CE-Ageing Platform identified five top ranked current challenges faced by all CE regions. These refer to the low labour force participation of particular age groups, the need for modifications with regard to governance systems, in particular the pension, social and health and care systems, changes in family structures as well as the need for a better integration of migrants. The platform, in addition, observes growing inequality across CE as well as within CE regions. Four major areas of concern are in focus in regard to actions to be taken by local and regional public authorities in particular. These comprise:
  • Employability: Undisputable, employability is the key for labour force participation and social inclusion. Investment in human capital is regarded as the cornerstone for enhancing employability.
  • Migration: Courageous and proactive migration policies both within CE regions as well as to CE together with measures enhancing the integration of migrants are central to responding to the demographic challenges faced.
  • Family: Modifications in the field of work and care provision due to changes in the family structures and household communities pose challenges to manage work-life balance. These policies go hand in hand with ‘Employability’.
  • Healthy ageing: Promotion of healthy active ageing is essential for all CE regions in order to enable for longer, healthier and happier lives of CE citizens.

Core aspects of the Strategy concern counterbalancing inequalities, the adaptation of CE governance systems to change, the need for investments in human capital and making work-life-balance happen. Since the Strategy was regarded by consulting parties as a “real reference point” and a “good basis for being developed even to a European Strategy”, the CE-Ageing Platform hopes that CE regions (policy makers, employers, NGOs, etc.) make best use of the Strategy and implement the recommended actions. A sustainable socio-economic setting for CE and its various regions can be built by setting up bundles of measure at the local and regional levels, aligning regional and local actions with policies to taken at the national and international levels and, thus, together contributing to minimising negative effects of demographic change.

The CE-Ageing Platform Strategy has been developed by the project consortium of the Central European Knowledge Platform for an Ageing Society in the period 1/2011-10/2013. We are very grateful to all comprehensive contributions received during the development and consultation phase of the Strategy!

Anette Scoppetta, PP2, Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), Austria

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