Doc. 10513

23 April 2005

Population trends in Europe and their sensitivity to policy measures

Recommendation 1683 (2004)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 924th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (20 April 2005)

1.       The Committee of Ministers welcomes the Parliamentary Assembly’s extensive overview of Europe’s current demographic trends and their origins set out in its Recommendation 1683 (2004) and has studied it with interest. It has brought it to the attention of the member states’ governments and communicated it to the European Population Committee (CAHP).

2.       The Committee of Ministers agrees that the decline and ageing of the population of Europe, and accompanying migration pressures, are vital topical issues, requiring forward-thinking policies that address these complex phenomena, while at the same time preserving and developing individual freedoms and living standards. It considers that the differences in the situation and level of development of the different member states necessitates different national approaches and, on the other hand, that the relevant provisions in the Organisation’s existing legal instruments and agreements provide a suitable framework for the implementation of common standards throughout the member states (for instance Article 23 of the Revised European Social Charter on the right to social protection of elderly persons, its Article 27 on the right of persons with family responsibilities to equal opportunities and equal treatment, or the right to housing in its Article 31).

3.       The Committee of Ministers also feels that many of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly are already pursued by the Organisation in the framework of various programmes and activities, especially those of the CAHP. The European Committee on Equality between Women and Men (CDEG) and the CAHP work to promote freedom of choice in family matters and equality between women and men, subjects which reflect the individual approach advocated by the Parliamentary Assembly. Since the revision of its terms of reference two years ago, the CAHP has focused its activities on providing demographic input to policy-makers and to the other bodies of the Council of Europe, inter alia, by the publication of reports on themes such as international labour migration, reproductive health behaviour, demographic implications of social exclusion in central and eastern Europe and the demographic characteristics of the oldest old (ten of these reports were prepared in 2004 and distributed to the national authorities of the member states, to the Council of Europe bodies and made available to the European Population Network through the website of the population sector). The Committee of Ministers will bear in mind the Parliamentary Assembly’s recommendation to amend the terms of reference of the CAHP when these come up for renewal at the end of 2005.

4.       The European Population Conference 2005 on Demographic Challenges For Social Cohesion organised jointly by the CAHP, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on 7-8 April 2005, focused on demographic challenges for social cohesion, and in particular addressed ways to promote dialogue between policy-makers and demographers. Finally, the 2005 Programme of Activities of the CAHP includes policy topics on the depopulation of regions and future demographic trends.