Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-03-23-Speech-4-038"

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". There is no doubt about the importance of the issue before us. A large proportion of Europe is getting older. With rare exceptions, birth rates are low. Various social protection, solidarity and social security mechanisms have seen their sustainability come under threat. Immigration from countries outside Europe has apparently made it possible to balance activity rates in some Member States, but there are social consequences in terms of social integration and family support that must be taken into account. The debate on demographic challenges has gained fresh urgency, with the advent of the recent Scandinavian implementation of the European Social model. It is very important to combine increased productivity and competitiveness benefits with strong female participation in the labour market. At the same time, birth rates have gone up and there is now more understanding when it comes to paternity leave and greater support for motherhood. Accordingly, from a European perspective, all efforts must be channelled into reconciling working life and family life in each Member State, by negotiating more flexible working hours, and by means of more appropriate and more widespread child support infrastructure. In addition, mutual knowledge of different social security systems must be increased and people must be given the opportunity to move freely from one national system to another, be it public, private or any other kind, for example, mutual benefit systems. This is very important for workers who pay social security in a particular Member State, whose lives will improve on their return to their country of origin and when they move to another Member State to work. There also needs to be a drive to modernise social protection systems. Moreover, active ageing should be encouraged. This is all discussed in the reports by Mr Bushill-Matthews, Mrs Estrela and all the members of committees working with such dedication in this area. I should like to conclude by saying that the demographic challenges currently facing Europe are serious, but that there are ways of addressing these challenges. Let us therefore rise to the challenge of helping to ensure greater solidarity between the generations."@en1

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