The Portuguese Minister of State for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Mariana Vieira da Silva, has called for a “strong commitment” to a social Europe, warning of the demographic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has tragically revealed the increased risk of illness and social exclusion our elderly are exposed to. It is therefore essential to have informed policies that will improve healthcare facilities and promote active ageing”, argued the Minister, speaking as the representative of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU at the launch of the “Atlas of Demography” tool by the European Commission.
With the emergence of the pandemic, families have also been faced with “economic uncertainty”, she added, pointing to the need to “assure families of certain basic needs, from housing, universal childcare and work-life balance to the inclusion of young people in the labour market”.
Mariana Vieira da Silva also warned of the “unequal impacts” on the population, underlining that “migrants are among the worst affected” by the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic. “[Migrants] play an essential role in the rejuvenation of our workforce and in the mitigation of demographic imbalances. We must not neglect the growth of sustainable mobility and the creation of good integration schemes”, she observed.
The Minister believes that data collection is “essential” for making policy decisions, given that “these elements make it possible for our public policies to respond to this reality”, adding that “the European Commission's initiatives”, particularly the launch of this Atlas of Demography tool, “are crucial” in this respect.
The establishment of “a strong commitment to a social Europe” is “the way forward” in order to respond to the challenges of demographic changes, the Minister pointed out, recalling that “social Europe will be in the spotlight during the Social Summit” in Porto next week, organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU.