Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-03-23-Speech-4-045"

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"Mr President, there can be no serious discussion on demographic change if people are regarded as economic factors rather than individuals; yet, in my opinion, both the Commission Green Paper and the present report by Mr Bushill-Matthews make that very error. I also feel that the discussion should consider demographic change as a global issue. It is evident that neither the Millennium Development Goals nor the fight against world poverty feature even remotely in our debate on demographic change. After all, the main problem is not that the European population is declining, but that, firstly, this is disproportional from region to region; secondly, coexistence in society is at risk; and, thirdly, we are not relating demographic change in Europe to the exploding world population. We are looking at the ageing of European society almost exclusively from the point of view of the dwindling workforce and, in the process, completely disregarding the development of productivity. At the same time, we are exploiting productivity as a means to cut social, sickness, health and pension benefits and to consider prolonging working life greatly. I am referring here only to the study prepared and published by the Commission, which envisages 71 years. I call for a change in priorities. We need a child-friendly society, which actually welcomes living with children. We need a different kind of debate, as we cannot just see children as an investment to safeguard labour and pension provision. Furthermore, we cannot continue simply seeking a better reconciliation of working life and family life, of working time and leisure time. We need to concern ourselves with something more: with the children, for it is they who are important here. Children must really be central, and must be regarded as individuals. Naturally, society also needs to meet the challenges of ageing, for example by means of expanding social services or, of course, by means of urban development: for example, old people’s housing, and transport designed with children and the elderly in mind. This issue is much more multifaceted than we think."@en1

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