Evening Debate on Demographic Change in Europe

18.00-19.30, Tuesday 24th March 2015, European Parliament

The event was jointly organised by European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) Working Group Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) Scientific Review Group for the Social Sciences (SRG-SOC)

The debate focused on the topic of demographic change, a critical subject for the future of Europe. Increasing life expectancy alongside lower fertility rates, a shrinking workforce, fluctuating economics and migration trends are all demographic changes that will have major long-term impacts for European society, economics and politics. The event was intended in particular to illuminate the value of humanities and social science research on demographic change in contributing to this pressing issue that the European Union currently faces. The reason for this aim is the concern within the scientific community that too often problems, such as demographic change, are viewed by policymakers as ones that can be resolved by technical or technological fixes whilst ignoring the importance of behavioural or economic and social change.

Anthony Teasdale, Director-General of the EPRS, welcomed the participants and was followed by ALLEA President Günter Stock, who delivered the event’s opening remarks.The panel itself was moderated by Danuta Jazłowiecka, MEP and Vice-Chair of the EP Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. The panellists were

  • Harald Wilkoszewski, Head of Population Europe Information Centre Brussels - Network of Europe’s Leading Demographic Research Centres
  • Ursula Staudinger, Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University
  • Franck Debie, Associate Professor in Political Geography at the Ecole Normale Supérieure.

The expert panel was followed by a debate and discussion which rounded out the event. Speakers provided insights to various aspects of the topic “Demographic Change in Europe” showcasing the value the humanities and social sciences can make when considering the implications for European policy regarding population ageing, childhood development, and migration.

The event was held at a particularly well-chosen moment as around the time of the event the European Commission and Member States were discussing the 2016-17 Work Programme for Horizon 2020, the EU’s current research and innovation programme, which includes a series of calls under the banner of ‘health, demographic change and wellbeing’.