EUROPE - The European Commission has outlined three priorities to deal with demographic ageing in a new Green Paper set to be published tomorrow.

The Commission has laid out its thinking about how to deal with the demographic challenge facing Europe in a 26-page paper called "Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations".

"In order to face up to demographic change, Europe should pursue three essential priorities," the Commission said.

The priorities including returning to demographic growth, ensuring a balance between the generations and finding new bridges between the stages of life.

It calls for a "new solidarity" between generations. It said: "Our societies will have to invent new ways of exploiting the potential of young people and older citizens."

It said that although member states have to deal with some issues on their own, there are also "urgent issues of common interest" for all EU member states.

It points out that the EU no longer has a "demographic motor" - and that immigration has recently mitigated the impact of falling birth rates in many countries. And it argues that the situation in the candidate countries "accentuates the demographic contrasts".

The Commission said the coordination of retirement scheme reforms is "promoting more flexible bridges between work and retirement".

The paper asks a series of questions about the role of older people and whether there should be a statutory retirement age.

It asks: "How could European coordination of employment and social protection policies better take on board demographic change?"

The Commission will organise a conference in July to bring together all the players concerned.