Europe faces both Depopulation and Ageing
It is undeniable that figures about Europe's demography present a concern. The population ageing and declining birth rates started several decades ago. And the share of the population aged 65 and over is increasing in all EU and EFTA Member States. The result, particularly in the economic and social spheres, is a decreasing proportion of people of working age but also an explosive increase in the number of people dependent on care. Consequently, States budgets will have to adjust as quickly as possible to those fundamental changes which are affecting our societies. South European countries are deeply affected by the drop in the number of births. Spain with an average of 1.27 children born for every woman of childbearing age, has one of the lowest fertility rates in the EU. The populations of Spain and Portugal are steadily shrinking since 2010. We also note that in Italy the retired population -over 65- should rise to 18.8% by 2050. Further to the North, the situation is no better. For decades there have been far more deaths than births in Germany. And government's expectations stressed that the population could plunge from 81 million to 67 million by 2060. It is in this challenging context that the immigration and refugee crisis arises. And the debate between those who claim that immigration is a real opportunity for the European continent and those who argue that immigration is a threat for its future is still heated.