Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-03-23-Speech-4-032"

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". Madam President, I welcome the priority given to this issue by the Commissioner. This priority is recognised and supported by all political groups in Parliament. The fact that there were over 200 amendments at the committee stage for what was and is an own-initiative report, is hopefully seen as a reflection of their priority and not entirely down to the inadequacy of the rapporteur in the first place. I wish to begin by thanking colleagues in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, especially the shadow rapporteurs for their important input. I should like to thank the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and in particular the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality – with whom we had enhanced cooperation, both officially and in practice – for their valuable opinions and for the many ideas they have also contributed to this report. However, one direct consequence of all this is that the report is too long: a tribute perhaps to our collective enthusiasm. I hope, with the support of colleagues in the vote today, that we can make it a little shorter. However, the thrust of the report should remain clear: the challenges of an ageing population, with more people living much longer, with more older people who are inactive and need the support of others, and more older people who are active and need to support themselves, are not just problems for the elderly, but for society as a whole. The challenges of a declining birth rate, with fewer people of working age, who are mathematically unable to fund the larger number of pensioners; with many parents who want to have more children grappling with the pressures of combining work and family life, but who are mathematically unable to make ends meet. These are not just problems for young people, these too are problems for society as a whole. They are challenges for governments; they are challenges for businesses. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but, as they say in the X-Files: the truth is out there! There are many different ideas around and different experiences to draw upon, not just in the European Union. A number of thoughts and pointers are in this report. We now need minds to open, but, above all, we need action to follow these ideas through. I hope the Commissioner feels that this report reflects not only his own priority but also his own personal sense of urgency, and that all will agree that the real work starts now."@en1

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