Europe is getting older and the continent needs to prepare for this.
That was the message from Brussels this week as the European Commission launched a 12-week public consultation about ageing Europe.
The idea is to pen new policies to tackle the challenges that will arise when 30% of the population is more than 65 years old.
According to Eurostat, the number of people in need of long-term care could increase from 20 million in 2016 to almost 24 million in 2030.
Dubravka Šuica, the EU commissioner responsible for demography, said ageing Europe needs to think about the future and fill in gaps in the labour market.
She told Euronews: "As you know, Europe is an ageing continent and if you look at Eurostat in the last 50 years, we live 10 years longer, so we need to think about [the] labour market, we need to think about our productivity and our developing technology and we need to fill in our labour market, we need to think about retirement limit age, we have to take all of this into account to be effective not just economically but also our social system and social protection system, about long term care, and about children – everything is incorporated in this green paper".
For NGOs, ageing has been the elephant in the room for years among policymakers and has only come to the forefront since the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope the European Commission will talk directly to older people when carrying out their consultation.
"It is the responsibility of decision-makers to make policies which respond to [the] needs and aspirations of all age groups and populations," said Julia Wadoux, from AGE Platform Europe.
"The Green Paper on Ageing provides [an] opportunity to bring benefits for all generations which complement each other in their vision of society and in the solutions to shape and organise it."