The Basque Country and the Autonomous Communities draw up proposals on demographic challenges for the European Union’s EPSCO Council on Employment and Social Policy
- Today, Tuesday, European ministers analysed by videoconference the impact of the demographic challenges and analysed the labour market
- A new EPSCO Council will meet on 11 June, in Luxembourg, with the six-monthly conclusions
Brussels, 2020 05 05
The Basque Government Ministry of Employment and Social Policies conveyed to the other Autonomous Communities the summary of the meeting held today in Brussels between the EU Ministers of Employment and Social Policy whom, by means of videoconference, addressed the impact of the demographic challenges and analysed the labour market and social policy measures at state and community levels as part of the efforts to achieve economic recovery. As representative of the Communities before the EPSCO Council in these first six months of the year, the Basque Country advocates the drawing up by the autonomous communities of a common stance on employment and social policies. On June 11, in principle, the EPSCO Council on demographic challenges will meet and establish the conclusions.
Today saw the second videoconference of Employment and Social Policy Ministers to have taken place during the Croatian Presidency, following the one organised on March 19, when ministers discussed measures to mitigate the negative employment and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today’s videoconference, jointly chaired by the Minister of Labour and Pension System, and the Minister for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy, Vesna Bedeković, focused on possible economic recovery strategies, with an emphasis on the labour market and social measures, as well as on demographic challenges. The conference was organised with the participation of the Commission Vice President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, the Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, and EU Social Partners.
The Ministers presented different national measures that had already been taken by the Member States, as well as those they plan to introduce: temporary short-time work schemes and lay-off measures; deferred or reduced tax payments for SMEs, publicly guaranteed loans to companies, temporary suspension of professional taxes, loans and rents for the self-employed; and support to seasonal workers in tourism and agriculture.
In this regard, the Commission stressed that it is important to speed up the process and find agreement on the SURE instrument by 1 June, which will provide up to EUR 100 billion in loans to Member States to cover part of the costs related to the creation or increase of national mechanisms for a reduced working day”. They also emphasized that the role of social partners is important and a joint approach is needed.
According to Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, “the recovery from the socioeconomic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic will require unprecedented effort and coordination amongst Member States. It must be geared towards a more resilient, fair and sustainable Union. EU health and safety standards must be fully respected. The European Pillar of Social Right remains our compass.”
Anticipating the finalisation of the European Commission Report on the Impact of Demographic Change, the participants also exchanged views on how to best tackle the demographic challenges the Member States are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ministers emphasized the “need to implement sound strategies at all levels of governance in order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on demography, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable groups such as the elderly. All Member States must work together to make the most affected areas attractive for the younger generations.” The outcome of the ministerial discussion will provide useful input for the finalisation of the Commission Report on the Impact of Demographic Change and set the tone for future debates and policies at EU level.
The European Commission highlighted that it has been preparing a Report on Demographic Changes that will offer a cross-section of the demographic situation at EU level. The Commission also plans to offer answers to the current demographic situation, in the context of COVID-19, through a Green Paper on Ageing and the EU strategy for rural areas.
They also stressed that “every third European lives in a region faced with a decrease in the number of inhabitants, mainly rural areas.”
Dubravka Suica, Vice President for Democracy and Demography, indicated that “the European Commission is committed to continue its efforts to help Europe’s societies and economy get back to a normal functioning and to sustainable and inclusive growth. The Report on the impact of demographic change plays an important role in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, in launching follow-up policy initiatives on ageing and on rural areas and in offering support to the long-term recovery.”
Finally, the Commission emphasized that “not all are affected the same way. It is important to protect the youth and, therefore, the Commission will soon propose an Updated Youth Guarantee and is preparing the initiative on Child Guarantee and common standards on minimum income.”