Tag Archives: Demography

Strategy for sustainable development

Strategy for sustainable development

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for sustainable development


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

Strategy for sustainable development

The European Union has formulated a long-term strategy to dovetail the policies for economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development, its goal being sustainable improvement of the well-being and standard of living of current and future generations.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 15 May 2001 ‘A Sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development’ (Commission proposal to the Gothenburg European Council) [COM(2001) 264 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Communication of 13 December 2005 on the review of the Sustainable Development Strategy – A platform for action [COM(2005) 658 final – not published in the Official Journal].


This strategy provides an EU-wide policy framework to deliver sustainable development, i.e. to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

It rests on four separate pillars – economic, social, environmental and global governance – which need to reinforce one another. The economic, social and environmental consequences of all policies thus need to be examined in a coordinated manner and taken into account when those policies are being drawn up and adopted. The EU also needs to assume its international responsibilities with regard to sustainable development, whose various aspects – including democracy, peace, security and liberty – need to be promoted beyond EU borders.

This strategy, which complements the Lisbon Strategy, shall be a catalyst for policy makers and public opinion, to change society’s behaviour. It is built around measures covering the main challenges identified, as well as cross-cutting measures, adequate funding, the involvement of all stakeholders and effective policy implementation and follow-up.

The strategy is based on the following guiding principles: promotion and protection of fundamental rights, solidarity within and between generations, the guarantee of an open and democratic society, involvement of citizens, involvement of businesses and social partners, policy coherence and governance, policy integration, use of best available knowledge, the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle.

Measures for responding to the key challenges

The strategy identifies seven unsustainable trends on which action needs to be taken. This strategy lists a whole range of operational and numerical targets and specific measures at EU level to attain these objectives. These measures were updated and developed in the 2005 strategy review.

The first long-term specific objective of the strategy is to limit climate change and its effects by meeting commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and under the framework of the European Strategy on Climate Change. Energy efficiency, renewable energy and transport will be the subject of particular efforts.

Limiting the adverse effects of transport and reducing regional disparities is another long-term objective, for which there is a need to break the link between economic growth and transport growth and do more to develop transport that is environmentally friendly and conducive to health. The strategy envisages, among other measures, infrastructure charging, promotion of alternatives to road transport and vehicles which produce less pollution and use less energy.

To promote more sustainable modes of production and consumption the link between economic growth and environmental degradation needs to be broken and attention paid to how much ecosystems can tolerate. With this aim in view, the EU must among other things promote green public procurement, define environmental and social performance targets for products in cooperation with stakeholders, expand the distribution of environmental innovations and environmental technologies and produce information about and appropriate labelling of products and services.

Sustainable management of natural resources is also an objective. From now until 2010 overexploitation needs to be avoided, efficiency of natural resource use improved, the value of ecosystem services recognised and loss of biodiversity halted. In particular the EU must make efforts in agriculture, fisheries and forest management; see to it that the Natura 2000 network is completed; define and implement priority actions to protect biodiversity, and make sure that aspects associated with the seas and oceans are duly taken into account. Recycling and re-use must also be supported.

Limiting major threats to public health is another of the strategy’s objectives. Food safety and quality must be ensured throughout the food chain. Threats to health and the environment posed by chemicals must be removed by 2020 and research into the links between health and pollutants must be developed. Issues relating to epidemics, resistance to antibiotics and lifestyle must be tackled, in particular to prepare for a possible pandemic and combat HIV/AIDS.

In order to combat social exclusion and poverty and mitigate the effects of an ageing society, the EU must promote active ageing and make efforts to ensure the viability of pension and social protection systems, integrate legal migrants and develop a Community immigration policy, improve the situation of families – especially of children – and promote equality between men and women.

The revised strategy also provides for strengthening the fight against global poverty, monitoring global sustainable development and compliance with international commitments. To achieve this, the EU must in particular increase the amount of aid provided to less favoured countries, improve the coherence and quality of development aid policies and promote better international governance.

Intersectoral measures

The Knowledge Society must be the driving force behind sustainable development. Special efforts need to be made in education and training for the greatest number of participants, so as to bring about a change in behaviour and give the public the necessary skills to meet the objectives laid down in the strategy. Scientific and technical innovation also needs to be stimulated, especially through framework programmes of research and development and in association with universities, research institutes, businesses and government officials.

Financial and economic instruments are another way to engender a market that offers less polluting products and services and to change consumer behaviour. Prices therefore need to reflect actual environmental and social costs, whereas fiscal measures should be applied to energy and resource consumption and/or pollution. In addition, financial support from European funds must be coordinated between the Commission and Member States to optimise efficiency.

Better communication will help involve businesses and the public. Stress is laid on the importance of systematic dialogue with consumers and of consulting other countries in order to mobilise the efforts of all parties. The different parties, including public administrations (European and national), businesses and the public (including non-governmental organisations) must establish partnerships among themselves.

Formulation of policies and review of progress

Member States must draw up national strategies and regularly review progress accomplished. They must carry out impact assessments before adopting their policies or committing public funds.

All the instruments available to the public authorities must be used to contribute to sustainable development. This includes regulations, but also incentives or market based instruments.

The Commission evaluates the implementation of the strategy once every two years on the basis of sustainable development indicators that it has adopted and, where necessary, updated. This evaluation forms the basis of another, carried out once every two years by the December European Council. Other bodies and institutions also examine what has been achieved and establish links with Member States and the public if required. The strategy provides for a review of its objectives by Council decision no later than 2011.


The main lines of the strategy that the Commission proposed in 2001 were set out in the conclusions of the Gothenburg European Councilof June 2001. It also formed part of the European Union’s preparatory work for the 2002 world summit on sustainable development (Rio + 10) held in Johannesburg. Before that summit the Commission presented another communication on how the Union should contribute towards sustainable development in the world; elements of that communication were incorporated into the strategy when it was reviewed.

A public consultation on the sustainable development strategy was organised following the appointment of the new Commission in 2004. The Commission also drew up a communication taking an overall look at the progress made thanks to the sustainable development strategy, referring to the main findings of the consultation and setting out broad orientations for review of the strategy.

For its part, the Brussels European Council of June 2005 reaffirmed both the key objectives of sustainable development and the guiding principles which need to underpin the renewed strategy.

In December 2005, the Commission adopted a communication in which it:

  • determines the main areas which require a fresh impetus in the years to come. It points out that these areas are interdependent and require responses based on cooperation and solidarity, on research and innovation and on the education of the population;
  • proposes to take more account of the impact of European policies on sustainable development at world level;
  • proposes methods to measure the progress achieved and regularly review priorities at national and Community levels;
  • recommends a permanent dialogue with the individuals and organisations – company heads, regional and local authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), etc. – involved in sustainable development.

This communication underpinned the adoption of a new EU Sustainable Development Strategy at the Brussels European Councilof June 2006.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 24 July 2009 – Mainstreaming sustainable development into EU policies : 2009 Review of the European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development [COM(2009) 400 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Review reports on the policy developments carried out at European level following the adoption of the European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development. In this regard, the European Union plays an important role in the fight against climate change and in promoting a low-carbon economy.
However, progress in sustainable development still needs to be made and the Review opens a discussion on how the strategy can be improved. It should be better coordinated with other European policy strategies, particularly with the Lisbon Strategy on Growth and Jobs. The implementation of the strategy should be streamlined in order to improve its management and its actual results.

Commission Communication of 22 October 2007 ‘Progress Report on the Sustainable Development Strategy 2007’ [COM(2007) 642 final – not published in the Official Journal].
In this report the Commission considers that progress achieved on the ground has been modest, but great advances in EU and Member State policy development have occurred in many areas, in particular climate change, clean energy and health.

Commission Communication of 9 February 2005 ‘The 2005 Review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy: Initial Stocktaking and Future Orientations’ [COM(2005) 37 final – not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission takes stock of progress since 2001, even though immediate results cannot be expected. The Commission also sets out the future orientations which should guide the review of the strategy, specifically:

  • reaffirming the new approach to policy making and policy coherence (impact assessment, stakeholder consultation, regulatory simplification, market-based instruments);
  • pursuing action on key unsustainable trends (assessment of these trends and the linkages between them);
  • setting new priority objectives and targets, together with intermediate milestones to measure progress;
  • reinforcing the monitoring of the strategy;
  • strengthening ownership of the strategy (awareness-raising and mobilisation) and improving cooperation with public and private actors.

Sustainable development indicators to monitor the implementation of the EU sustainable development strategy [SEC(2005) 161 – not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission presents a list of indicators for monitoring the implementation of the political priorities which were agreed at the Gothenburg and Barcelona European Councils or which relate to the commitments entered into by the European Union at the Johannesburg world summit on sustainable development. The list takes the form of a hierarchical framework of 12 headline indicators (corresponding to the main sustainable development themes identified at European and international level), 45 core policy indicators (corresponding to the key objectives of each theme) and 98 analytical indicators (corresponding to measures implementing the key objectives).

Commission Communication of 13 February 2002 ‘Towards a global partnership for sustainable development’ [COM(2002) 82 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Green Paper on the European Workforce for Health

Green Paper on the European Workforce for Health

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on the European Workforce for Health


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > European health strategy

Green Paper on the European Workforce for Health

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper from the Commission of 10 December 2008 on the health workforce [COM(2008) 725 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This Green Paper examines the challenges that the European Union (EU) must tackle at present with regard to its health workforce, and suggests some adapted solutions with a view to public consultation on this subject.

Legal framework and basis for action at Community level

Although Member States are responsible for the organisation and provision of health services and medical care, the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty) provides for a certain level of coordination at Community level. Moreover, secondary legislation defines the rules that are applicable at national level, including some applying to the health workforce, and in particular in terms of labour law.

Challenges faced by the health workforce

Medical staff and all the professions which contribute to organising and providing health care are considered by the Green Paper. The designation of health workforce includes, for example, public health specialists, social workers, trainers and alternative medicine.

Demography, a sustainable health workforce and public health capacity

European citizens are living longer and it is essential to guarantee their good health throughout their lifespan.

An ageing population implies an increase in the number of chronic conditions. The demand for health care is therefore increasing, whilst a considerable portion of the workforce required to meet these needs is approaching retirement age. Indeed, there is a lack of new health professionals able to replace them.

Moreover, inequalities in access to care, health promotion, and health and safety at work are determinants of public health, to which this workforce should pay increasing attention.

Training and information

If health needs multiply and the replacement of health staff is not guaranteed, more universities, training schools and teachers will be needed. It will also be important to plan which specialised skills will be the most necessary.

There is little comparable data or updated information about the health workforce and its mobility.

Mobility and migration of the health workforce

Mobility of health professionals has a dual effect. A positive effect because it can allow supply to be adapted to demand. Professionals can indeed go where they are most needed. This free circulation can also have negative effects in that it can create imbalances and inequalities in terms of availability of health staff.

A major problem is the phenomenon of the brain drain from third countries to the European Union. For this reason circular migration should be put in place.

To this end, in 2008, the European Social Dialogue Committee in the Hospital sector, composed of HOSPEEM (European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), adopted a ‘code of conduct and follow up on Ethical Cross-Border Recruitment and Retention’. This measure aims to promote ethical practices when recruiting health workers.

New technologies and entrepreneurship

In the future, new technologies such as telemedicine may be able to counteract some deficiencies of the present health system. The introduction of new technologies represents certain challenges which the Green Paper proposes to meet by inviting Member States to:

  • guarantee training in the use of these new technologies;
  • encourage the use of new information technologies.

Some health workers run their own practices and employ staff. The European Union encourages this type of activity, all the more so since the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises contributes to the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy.

Some proposals made by the Green Paper

The Green Paper proposes several ways forward, pending the results of the public consultation on the health workforce. They include:

  • strengthening capacity for screening, health promotion and disease prevention;
  • making numerusclausus more flexible in application to health workers;
  • exchanging good practice on their mobility;
  • reconsidering the principles of recruiting staff from third countries;
  • collecting comparable information about health workers;
  • guaranteeing training for these workers in the use of these new technologies, amongst other skills;
  • further encouraging entrepreneurs to enter the health sector.


This Green Paper aims to initiate a debate on the health workforce in the European Union. This debate could identify how to best promote and train the workforce and enable it to meet the current demographic, technological and migratory challenges. A public consultation was held between December 2008 and March 2009.

2009 Ageing Report

2009 Ageing Report

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about 2009 Ageing Report


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

2009 Ageing Report

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 29 April 2009 – Dealing with the impact of an ageing population in the EU (2009 Ageing Report) [COM(2009) 180 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The Commission uses the projections presented by Eurostat in 2008 as a basis to report on the long-term effects of demographic ageing.

The economic impact of ageing

According to these projections, the employment rate will increase from 65.5 % in 2007 to 70 % in 2060. The employment of women and older workers is also likely to rise, as will net immigration levels. However, these developments will only slow down the overall fall in employment, due to the shrinking working age population. While there are now four workers for every retired person, this will move to two workers for each elderly person in 2060.

The ageing population will also have consequences on the annual growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and labour productivity will become the main source of economic growth.

The impact of ageing on public finances

Member States will be faced with new budgetary constraints. The reform of pension schemes should ensure that services are matched to the needs of the elderly whilst tightening the eligibility requirements for receiving a public pension and developing funded schemes.

The increase in demand for care is likely to lead to an increase of 1.5% in European GDP by 2060. Furthermore, the duration of care will increase and public cover for the elderly will be developed. On the other hand, medical research should be a significant growth factor, as should services for senior citizens.

Lastly, despite a fall in the birth rate, spending on education and lifelong training will prove to be essential in fostering productivity and human capital.

The impact of the international financial crisis

The programme of structural reforms aimed at allowing the EU to meet the demographic challenge involves the adoption of a series of measures aimed at achieving balanced budgets, reducing the public debt, increasing employment and productivity, and guaranteeing the viability of social protection and healthcare systems.

However, in 2009 Member States should give priority to the European Economic Recovery Plan. In this context, the Commission presents amended objectives to prepare for the ageing population. National measures should promote:

  • birth rates, by creating favourable conditions for families;
  • labour market participation , aiming particularly at young people and older workers. The participation of older workers involves adapted working conditions and healthcare;
  • economic productivity and progression towards a knowledge-based economy. In this regard, investments should be made in education, new technologies and services for the elderly;
  • conditions for receiving migrants. The international financial crisis has consequences on the situation of developing countries and migratory flows. However, migrants may also face more difficulties finding a job in Europe;
  • the viability of public finances and continuing reforms related to the demographic decline.

The measures taken at Community level are framed by the Stability and Growth Pact which forms the basis for the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (2008-2010), and the Renewed Lisbon Strategy. The Commission encourages:

  • strengthening of budgetary supervision and the coordination of national policies;
  • reform of national pension schemes;
  • protection of financial markets, particularly concerning their impact on pension schemes;
  • regular evaluation of progress and needs in the areas of education, training, research and development.

European Year for Active Ageing

European Year for Active Ageing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Year for Active Ageing


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

European Year for Active Ageing (2012)

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 940/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2011 on the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012) (Text with EEA relevance).


The 2012 European Year acts as a framework to promote active ageing and solidarity between generations. The European Union (EU) faces a rapidly ageing population and decreasing birth rate.

It is therefore necessary to improve employment opportunities and working conditions for older workers, but also to improve their inclusion in society and to encourage healthy ageing. The actions carried out take account of equal treatment between people and gender equality.

Objectives of the European Year

The EU encourages and supports initiatives by the public authorities of its Member States, whether they take place at national, regional or local level. The social partners, actors in civil society and entreprises are also encouraged to carry out actions to promote solidarity and cooperation between generations.

The activities organised at European level and in the EU countries shall:

  • raise awareness among the general public of the importance of older persons’ participation in society and the economy;
  • stimulate debate, exchange of information and mutual learning between participating countries in order to promote good practice and cooperation;
  • offer a framework for commitment and concrete action to develop activities and innovative solutions, but also to set new long-term policy objectives;
  • combat age discrimination, particularly with regard to employability.


The European Year is open to participation by EU Member States, candidate countries and countries of the Western Balkans and the European Economic Area (EEA). Actions may also be organised in cooperation with competent international organisations.

In order to ensure that the activities are properly coordinated, each participating State shall appoint a national coordinator. In addition, the Commission shall be responsible for coordinating the Year at European level during meetings between the national coordinators and the various actors concerned.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision No 940/2011/EU


OJ L 246 of 23.9.2011

New skills for new jobs

New skills for new jobs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about New skills for new jobs


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Job creation measures

New skills for new jobs

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 16 December 2008 – ‘New skills for New Jobs: Anticipating and matching labour market and skills needs’ [
COM(2008) 868

final – Not published in the Official Journal].


As part of the renewed Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs, the Commission proposes an initiative aimed at improving workers’ qualifications in accordance with the needs of European employers. It is based on a prospective analysis of labour market trends up to 2020.

There is great potential for the creation of jobs in Europe in the medium and long term, particularly replacement jobs due to the ageing population. In addition, the market for ecological services and products should bring new types of job.

Skills and qualification requirements will increase for all types and levels of occupation. Employers are looking in particular for transversal competencies such as communication skills or analytical and problem-solving skills.

The level of qualifications of the European workforce should meet the new needs of the labour market. This objective can be achieved by introducing active policies and by improving the effectiveness of education and training systems. The modernisation of labour markets also implies the implementation of the integrated strategies in the area of flexicurity.

The Commission encourages Member States to improve the assessment and anticipation of trends in the labour market and skills requirements.It proposes four strands of action:

  • the dissemination of information on the trends and new opportunities in the labour market, primarily by the setting up of a “European Labour Market Monitor” but also via the Commission’s employment, training and mobility services (EURES, PLOTEUS and EURAXESS);
  • the development of forecasting tools in order to produce accurate and regular data for each sector of activity. New joint methodologies should be developed via the PROGRESS programme and the Lifelong Learning Programme. Employers will be involved in anticipating needs and developing partnerships with a view to meeting those needs;
  • deepening international cooperation, developing policy dialogue and the exchange of experience;
  • mobilising the Community’s political and financial instruments.


This initiative is part of the European Economic Recovery Plan adopted in December 2008. It should help to reduce the consequences of the financial crisis on the labour markets.

The Commission will present a first report on the results of this initiative in 2010.

Related Acts

Presidency Conclusions (pdf ) of the Brussels Spring European Council on 13 and 14 March 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Resolution (pdf ) of 15 November 2007 on the new skills for new jobs [OJ C 290 of 4.12.2007].