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Województwo Śląskie
Saxony
Brandenburg
Województwo
Zachodniopomorskie
Joint Declaration
of European
Regions:
“Facing
demographic
change as a
regional
challenge”
Brussels
October 2006
Województwo
Dolnośląskie

Demographic change as regional challenge
Demographic change is an important issue for many European regions. Prompted by
ageing societies and an increasing emigration of young people, many regions will be
confronted with serious problems in the medium to long term. In the face of this
challenge, we European regions have come together to address the problem jointly.
Some regions are tackling this demographic dilemma by encouraging the immigration of
workers (both from the EU Member States and from third countries). However for some
regions in economic decline, it is not possible to attract these workers. For these regions,
the demographic change caused by the decrease in the birth rate, the emigration of highly
qualified workers as well as the ageing population, is developing at an even more
worrying pace.
These regions are not, however, an exception. They are merely going through a process
that will affect the majority of European regions over the next 50 years. We want to work
together as a network in tackling this problem from the outset so that our experiences
and solutions can be used as examples of best practise throughout the EU. We intend to
develop a structured dialogue with the Commission and the European Parliament about
regional challenges and approaches we are taking as a result of demographic change.
In our opinion, the most pressing challenges currently facing our regions include: the
continuing provision of high quality public services to an ageing population, the
economic challenges posed by the steady loss of young graduates and workers, and the
consequence of demographic change on urban development.
Therefore, in view of the European dimension of these challenges, we strongly urge
the European Union:
1.
To consider the concept of sustainability not only in regard to environmental
resources but also in regard to demographics, particularly in the future EU funding
programmes. All future EU policy and funding programmes should be reviewed in light
of this definition with a particular focus on ensuring the provision of infrastructure and in
promoting economic growth in line with the Lisbon Strategy. In this way we ask that the
issue of demographic change be mainstreamed in all EU policy fields, including those
where it would at first appear to have little relevance such as internal market, services of
general interest and competition policy.
2.
To request that Member States and regions develop regional strategies in their
Structural Fund Operational Programs that recognise and address sub-regional
differences. Existing strategies for economic growth are often irrelevant to areas of a
region that are in demographic decline. For some regions or sub-regions it may be
unrealistic to orientate objectives purely towards growth. In some cases, decline and
consolidation as a base of planning must also be accepted. We ask that the EU
acknowledge this fact and work with European regions in order to address the issue.

3.
To develop new benchmarking systems and indicators which accurately reflect the
challenge of demographic change. The existing quantitative indicators which are used to
assess the impact of European funding (such as number of jobs created, kilometres of
roads built) are not relevant in areas that are suffering from severe demographic decline.
In order to be able to effectively address to the unique problems facing these regions
(such as urban renewal, provision of public services, rural development) we argue that
more flexible support and assessment mechanisms are needed, particularly in Structural
Fund management.
4.
To acknowledge that a declining population will result in a corresponding decline
in population density. This in turn has important consequences for both social and
material infrastructure. This problem is particularly pertinent in rural areas which already
often have difficulties in ensuring the provision of adequate public services.
5.
To recognise that the decrease in the working age population impacts on the
finances of local and regional authorities. The concept of additionality which is
highlighted in the General Structural Funds Regulations should be interpreted in
accordance with this.
6.
To pay more regard to the opportunities presented by the over 50s as an increasing
source of labour supply. These people could be a key contributor to maintaining
economic growth which offsets the reduction in younger workers.
7.
To recognise the fact, that an active professional and social life of the elderly
extends the expected lifetime without disability and allows the maintenance of
independence. This has a important influence on national social policy and the demand
for medical services.
8.
To consider that changes in the health of the population, especially connected with
the increasing number of people of retirement age and existing epidemiological trends,
will have an effect on the regional evolution in the hierarchy of health requirements and
needs. The health service sector needs to adapt to real health demands, including in some
cases reorganisation of public health care. Those actions will help assure the maintenance
of high quality in health care and the good level of health of the citizens. In regions with
most critical indicators concerning the range of chronic diseases, above-average
mortality, injuries, accidents and disability, this will require support and assistance from
the EU.
We, the regions, highlight the following approaches that are needed in order to deal
effectively with demographic change at the European level:
1.
The phenomenon of young people emigrating from poorly performing regions can
be tackled through the promotion of economic growth. Existing core areas of economic
growth must be supported in order to ensure the adequate provision of high quality jobs.
Investment in human capital is essential in order to create a flexible and adaptable
workforce. Thus, investment in lifelong learning for employees of all ages should be
encouraged.

2.
The potential, knowledge and experience in the workforce of the over 50s should
be better explored in view of demographic change. This requires the prevention of age
discrimination in all employment and action in order to overcome existing barriers. In
achieving this the behaviour of employers will be key. Significant attitude changes
towards older workers and changes to employment practices need therefore to be
encouraged. At the same time, older workers need to be incited to return or be retained in
employment or self employment or encouraged into business start ups.
3. A key factor in addressing the challenge of demographic change lies in the
qualitative aspects of daily life. Young people must be encouraged to stay in or move to
seek work in the regions and to raise a family there. In order to promote this, regions
must invest in developing quality of life factors such as work-life balance, childcare,
improving the environment and social support mechanisms.
4. The infrastructure problems caused by stagnating and shrinking regional
economies and the ageing of or reduction in the population must also be addressed. This
includes the recognition that uniform standards throughout the EU are not necessary in
the best interests of the regions. Strategies must be adapted to best meet the strengths and
weaknesses of the European regions.
5. The spatial proximity between growing, stagnating and shrinking sub-regions
requires flexible solutions to be adopted to deal with the specificities of the sub-region.
The cooperation between growing regions, especially Metropolitan regions, and the
surrounding rural areas should be intensified.
6. As mentioned in the introduction, a partial solution for some regions in
demographic decline has been found in the encouragement of immigration from outside
the EU. This however can cause its own problems and we strongly suggest improvement
of measures to improve the integration of immigrants.
7.
Ensuring a healthy life start for newborn babies as well as small children is a
special challenge for the EU countries and regions in the age of constantly diminishing
birth rates. A high priority for the EU should be support for women and children’s
health. A broad network of services, starting from family planning and pre- and post-
natal care, protective vaccinations, to appropriate medical services for children is an
important long-term, multi-generational investment for the social and economic
prosperity of families.

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List of
signatures
poriUor
pup".
"Facing
demographic
change
as
a
regional
challenge"
Network
of
European
regions
affected
by
demographic
change
"ffirya
Lower
Silesia
Member
of
the
n*"6re
Board
of
Lower
Silesian
VoivodeshiP
North
West
of
England
Flo Clucas
Chairwoman
of
North
West
of
England
Regional
European
PartnershiP,
Member
of
Committee
of
the
Regions
,(.,Lr7
te
of
Saxony
Prof.
Georg
Milbradt
Minister-President
of
the
Free State
of
Saxony
,n-
_...,ft#t
./"'-u
,/
Westpomerania
Mariusz
Holicki
Member
of the
Executive
Board
of
We
stpom
er ariran
Voivod
eshi
P

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List of signatures
Position paper “Facing demographic change as a regional challenge”
Network of European regions affected by demographic change
Central Bohemia
Dagmar Nohynkova
Vice-President of the Central Bohemia Region
Liberec Region
Petr Skokan
President of the Liberec Region
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Dr. Harald Ringstorff
Minister-President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Saxony-Anhalt
Rainer Robra
Minister for European Affairs of Saxony-Anhalt

image
List of signatures
Position paper “Facing demographic change as a regional challenge”
Network of European regions affected by demographic change
Silesia
Michał Czarski
Marshal of Silesia Region