Retiring workers outnumber those replacing them by some 200,000. How does the European Commission propose to tackle this?
Our goal is to help European Union countries manage the effects of aging in a positive manner.
What does that mean in practical terms?
We need to promote employment by improving job opportunities for older people through “active aging.” This means avoiding early exits from the labor market and making it possible for people to work longer.
Owing to the shortage of workers, what could the economic impact on the European Union be?
By 2060 we will move from having four people of working age for every person over 65 to only two. There is a risk that this could lead to lower growth rates and increased public expenditure on pensions, health care and long-term care.
If this is such an issue, could immigration be a solution?
Yes, migration has a role to play, but can only partially compensate for the effects of low fertility and extended life expectancy.
What are the other components?
We also need to address the issues of work-life balance, productivity growth, flexible working and sustainable social-protection systems. Finally, we must ensure the sustainability of public finances to guarantee adequate social protection and public services in the future.
As the recently issued Green Paper suggests, the EU faces tough choices on pensions. What are the options?
The choice is between poorer pensioners, higher pension contributions or more people working more and longer. One of the great successes of Europe’s social model is to ensure against old-age poverty. This can only be continued by improving solidarity between generations.