“If the present trend of our births and deaths continues, Europe will represent only four per cent of the world population, which is worrying,” Šuica said, noting that specific measures for demographic renewal fall within the competence of member states.
Although she mostly deals with young people, and 2022 has been declared the European Year of Youth, Šuica said that the focus should be not only on young people, given that life expectancy is increasing.
“We need the knowledge of older people, their expertise and wisdom, and we should foster intergenerational solidarity,” she said.
By 2070, average life expectancy at birth will be 90 years for women, up from the present 83.7 years, and 86 years for men, compared with the present 78.2 years, Šuica said in a report on the basis of which the Green Paper on Ageing was drawn up.
In 2070, 30 per cent of the European population will be older than 65 years, compared to 20 per cent in 2019, and 13 per cent will be older than 80, up from the present six per cent.
Šuica said that 80 per cent of European territory was covered by rural areas, where only a third of the European population live, which is similar to the situation in Croatia. She said that the smart use of regional funds and cohesion policy could improve Europeans’ quality of life.
Šuica said that rural areas provide huge potential for children and young people, but unfortunately they often lack adequate services, health care, kindergartens and infrastructure. “Above all, there is no broadband internet, which has become a precondition for job creation. It is no longer a question of where you live, but are you well connected,” she concluded.