Population ageing is now on the agenda being set by the European Commission as it puts forward plans to revamp the stability and growth pact which underpins the single currency.
“Budgetary surveillance should ensure the achievement of surpluses in good times to prepare for the ageing of the population, to create sufficient room for dealing with economic slowdowns and to ensure an adequate policy mix over the cycle,” the commission said in a statement.
The commission said the pact – whose conditions have been breached by member states – “would benefit from an increased focus on the sustainability of public finances and increased recognition of the different economic situations in an enlarged union of 25”.
It called for “better interlinking the instruments for EU economic governance in order to enhance the contribution of budgetary policy to economic growth”.
“It is my firm belief that these proposals will provide for a stronger and more credible pact,” says outgoing EC president Romano Prodi.
Separately, European Commission’s outgoing internal market and taxation commissioner Frits Bolkestein said only EU member states – and not Brussels – can reform Europe’s pension systems, when speaking recently in Stockholm
Bolkestein, who is to be succeeded by Ireland’s Charlie McCreevy and Latvia’s Ingrida Udre, referred to the Lisbon Strategy for growth in the EU.
He says: “Success or failure of the Lisbon Strategy, however, does not depend on what happens – or not as the case may be – in Brussels. It depends, first and foremost, on what reforms member states themselves undertake.
“Only member states can reform their labour market policies to get more people from welfare into work. Only member states can strengthen their health and pension systems.”