Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-03-23-Speech-4-035"

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"I should like to congratulate Mr Bushill-Matthews on his excellent report and on the cooperation that we established in the process of drafting our respective reports. In 2003, the natural growth of Europe’s population was 0.04%. Between 2005 and 2030 it is forecast that some 20 million people will be lost. By 2025, the population of the EU is expected to grow slightly, due to immigration, but then to fall again. Immigration is only a partial solution. Europeans do not have the number of children they want. Studies show that they would like to have 2.3 children on average, but they only have 1.5. This figure is too low for the population to be reinstated. Among the reasons for the low birth rate are: belated or unstable access to employment; difficulty of access to housing; the late age at which parents are having their first child; a lack of tax incentives and family benefits; inadequate parental leave; lack of day-care facilities for children and other dependent persons; the salary gap between men and women; and the difficulty of reconciling family and working life. According to demographics expert Phillip Longman, in Europe it is conservative Christians and Muslims who are having more children, and this will lead to changes in the make-up of society. What can be done to redress the situation? Phillip Longman makes some suggestions: Sweden has succeeded in increasing its birth rates by raising social benefits and by building day-care centres and crèches. In Italy, it would be helpful if securing a loan to buy one’s own house were made easier, as it is currently very difficult to do so. One thing is certain: in most Member States there is a strong correlation between high rates of female employment and high birth rates, and vice versa."@en1

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