The ageing of Europe’s population and the depopulation of certain territories are two problems which severely affect the European Union; both phenomena have accelerated during the 1980ies and result from a combination of falling fertility rates and growing life expectancy.
In December 2016, on initiative of the Regional Parliament of Castile and Leon, European regional parliaments established the Working Group on Depopulation and Ageing to jointly address these challenges. The Group comprises of 18 legislative assemblies in six EU member states (Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Portugal) under the coordination of Silvia Clemente, president of Cortes of Castile and Leon.
The objective was three-fold: Firstly, to establish a framework for the exchange of experiences and good practices of the respective regions, especially those that have proven effective. Secondly, to jointly formulate a European strategy for ways to cope with the challenges that come along with depopulation and ageing on the regional level. And, finally, to disseminate the resulting strategy on the local, regional and national level as well as among the European institutions.
In 2018, the Group organised various meetings with representatives of the European institutions (European Parliament, European Commission, and Committee of the Regions) in charge of the development of European Cohesion Policy to draw their attention to the specific demographic situation in the distinct regions, as well as propose to them measures targeted at mitigating the impacts of demographic change.
In addition, as part of the work stream of participating actively in open consultations processes of the European Union on the different financial instruments of the budgetary policy of the European Union, two common position papers were elaborated by the Working Group addressing the effects of the future financial framework of the European Union on depopulation and ageing.
On the occasion of the Second Permanent Committee of the CALRE in Brussels, on 29th of June 2018 a working meeting on depopulation and ageing in the European Union was held to discuss successful initiatives to combat depopulation, as well as their potential transfer to other regions.
Similarly, a study visit was organised on 16th and 17th of September 2018 to promote projects and initiatives implemented in Castile and Leon which have demonstrated their effectiveness to counteract rural depopulation.
Moreover, a virtual forum was created to facilitate the exchange of good practices targeted against depopulation, both public and private initiatives, and criteria for an award for the best projects presented in the forum were established.
And finally, on the local level, two meetings were organised with mayors and entrepreneurs from strategic economic sectors in Castile and Leon to discuss their development potential and promote the work of the Working Group.
In the Plenary Assambly held last november in Horta (Azores), it was agreed that the activities of the CALRE Working Group on Depopulation and Ageing will carry on in 2019 under the coordination of Silvia Clemente.