Dealing with the demographic problem, a “time bomb” for all prosperous countries, which particularly affects Greece, was the subject of a conference organized by the Eurogroup of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) at the initiative of PASOK-KINAL MEP Nikos Papandreou in Athens.

Speakers agreed that Greece needs a combination of policies to return those who have left abroad and for the attraction of young people, together with an immigration management, for the utilization of foreigners in the economic and social life of the country.

Also common was the finding that demographics are at the forefront of global challenges along with the climate crisis and the digital transition.

“Demographics is an issue that requires a European and coordinated solution and a European commissioner needs to take on increased powers and a special budget for this issue,” said Mr. Papandreou, who emphasized that he is willing to take on the role assigned to him in European Parliament, in order to highlight the issue in its real dimensions.

To the question of APE-MPE, whether demographics have the corresponding priority in EU financial tools, Mr. Papandreou replied that he is only generally involved in the issues of development of the region and local communities. But it has no immediate place as a demographic problem.

“There must be a master plan in the next five years, because this is a complex issue.” He also referred to the technical difficulties that many municipalities have in drawing up programs and making the right choices for the absorption of funds, an issue that must be addressed by creating a body, perhaps from the EU itself, to which local rulers can turn.

He said he would seek an “alliance” with a group of MEPs from all parties to push the issue forward.

At the conference, with the theme “Solving the key demographic problem for Sustainable Development and Social Welfare”, the positions of the representatives of the local government of remote and mountainous areas, such as the mayor of Agrafa, who sent messages of anxiety about the future of their place, were of particular interest. , but also specific proposals for the stay and attraction of new residents.

The PASOK-KINAL MEP pointed out that demographics is not only an economic but almost a cultural phenomenon, which occurs in prosperous countries. “To deal with it, we need a combination of social policies from housing policy for young people to ‘active ageing’ policy, but also policies for the integration of immigrants, which can contribute to social and economic development, which is shrinking as a result of demographic decline’.

Mr. Papandreou stated that European policies are not enough to deal with the phenomenon that changes all social structures, while at the level of national policy he brought the example of Spain, which created a ministry of “Green Transition and Demographic Challenge”, connecting the two challenges .

The proceedings began with a video message from the president of the Eurosocialists Irace Garciawhich sees “steady demographic deterioration in the West” and added that we socialists know that “only a sustainable demography, within a sustainable natural environment can ensure a sustainable future”.

In 2050 in Greece we will be 700,000-1,000,000 less, emphasized Demography professor at the University of Thessaly Byron Kotzamanis, who proposed to reverse the shrinking, on the one hand attracting young people to return to the homeland, on the other hand integrating legal immigrants.

Demographics intersects everything and affects everything, said Nikos Vettas, professor of Economics and general director of IOBE, “but its slow effects and their slow transformation, are not politically “cashed out” in one or two government terms, which is why are low on political priorities.” Mr. Vettas emphasized the need to have new structures in education (kindergartens, pre-school education) and health (long-term care for the elderly) with savings from the existing system, smart taxation and the creation of a “mini insurance in the insurance”.

The country must become more attractive, he pointed out, both for young people and in the management of immigration.

The mayor of Agrafon, Alexis Kardambikis, who leads a region that has the lead in demographic shrinkage, sounded the alarm that “mountainous areas tend to turn into nursing homes”. He cited efforts being made with municipal and private resources to strengthen schools, children and teachers and proposed the creation of a “mobile medical unit” that would provide primary care services, immediately.

“We need a stronger Greece in a stronger Europe, and we need to fight for the strengthening of regional development”, emphasized Marcos Ross Sempere, S&D MEP and pointed out that as a coordinator in the Regional Development Committee of the European Parliament, he knows the enormous importance of the demographic problem in the EU.

Rowana Plumb, MEP and vice-president of S&D emphasized in a video message that “the demographic issue is a major global problem and in a few decades we will live in a very different world”.

Connections with regional television stations, from which journalists exposed local problems, caused interest.

In addition to the lack of new population, because there are no jobs, problems such as the concentration in the urban centers and the desertification of the mountainous areas, shortages of labor for agricultural work were heard. In the connection with Alexandroupolis, it was pointed out that on the Greek side of the Evros, development and infrastructure are declining and the population is decreasing, while on the other side, development and population growth are also observed.