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State of the Union
Europe’s demography, youth and diversity

Making change happen

A new reality

Adapting to an ageing population

Europe has undergone and continues to face profound demographic change. In the EU, life expectancy at birth has increased by 10 years over the past five decades. This is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the strength and value of our social-market economy. Nonetheless, an ageing population has an impact on the way we live, and our social model and policies need to be adapted to the pace of this new reality.

What is the Commission doing in response?

  • adoption of the Green Paper on Ageing early in the mandate
  • launch of a broad public debate on the challenges and opportunities that deal with the long-term impacts of ageing, which affects all generations. The outcome of the public consultation will be reflected on the European care strategy, which will be presented in September 2022

Boosting rural areas

Rural areas are active shapers in the EU’s green and digital transitions. The freedom to work or study remotely is fast becoming a reality for many people living in the EU, opening up new possibilities for young families, businesses and rural communities. Innovations in sustainable agriculture are not only good for people’s health and the climate, but also for Europe’s food security.

Europe's rural areas:
active shapers of the EU’s green and digital transitions
30%
of the EU's population (137 million people) live in rural areas
80%
of EU territory is rural

How the Commission is supporting rural areas

  1. June 2021
    Long-term vision launched

    Path towards strong, connected, and prosperous rural areas is set out.

  2. December 2021
    Rural pact

    It will engage voices and views of rural communities. A co-created rural action plan will help transform the long-term vision into reality.

  3. June 2022
    Recovery and resilience plans

    25 national recovery and resilience plans adopted to support rural and remote areas with funding of around €14.6 billion, including investment and reforms for nature restoration, high-speed internet connections and local railways.

Migration – the way forward

Progress on migration and asylum

  1. September 2020
    New pact on migration and asylum

    The new pact combines robust and fair border management with efficient and humane rules on asylum and migration.

  2. June 2021
    New Schengen strategy

    The Commission presented a new strategy to strengthen the Schengen area to ensure the effective management of the EU’s external borders, increase police and judicial cooperation, improve preparedness and governance, and complete the enlargement of the Schengen area.

  3. January 2022
    European Union Asylum Agency starts operations

    The European Union Asylum Agency begins its work of supporting EU countries in applying the package of EU laws that governs asylum, international protection and reception conditions, known as the Common European Asylum System (CEAS).

Youth

How the Commission is engaging youth

  • a new initiative called ALMA (aim, learn, master, achieve) was launched by the Commission in 2022 to help the most vulnerable or disadvantaged young people access the job market
  • the Youth Guarantee, launched in 2020, is a commitment by all Member States to ensure that everyone under the age of 30 receives a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within 4 months of becoming unemployed or leaving education

European citizens’ initiatives

Now in its 10th year, the European Citizens' Initiative is a unique way for people to call on the Commission to propose new laws. Once an initiative reaches 1 million signatures, the Commission will decide how to take action. Since mid-September 2021, the Commission registered 10 new European citizens’ initiatives, calling for EU action in areas ranging from improved working conditions in the garment sector to the taxation of green products and more animal rights. Also since then, 3 other initiatives dealing with biodiversity have collected more than 1 million signatures that need to be verified by national authorities:  

  • Stop Finning – Stop the trade
  • Save the bees and farmers! Towards a bee-friendly agriculture for a healthy environment
  • Save cruelty free cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without animal testing
10 years
of European citizen's initiatives
10
new European Citizens’ Initiatives were registered since mid-September 2021
3
initiatives collected more than 1 million citizens’ signatures since mid-September 2021

Greater public engagement in policy making

How is the Commission is doing this?

  • the public and stakeholders can provide input online via the Have Your Say portal throughout the whole policymaking cycle
  • in November 2021, to further simplify the consultation process, the Commission introduced single calls for evidence, an approach that combined two previous steps
  • consultations became more accessible for people with disabilities
  • the scientific research community is encouraged to submit relevant scientific research from the beginning of the consultations

Results of policy-making engagement outreach

5 000
feedback opportunities published
3 million
contributions received
600 000
contributions on more than 800 policy initiatives since the 2021 State of the Union address

Citizens shaping the future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe gave citizens from all walks of life a greater say in what the EU should do in the future.

Conference outcomes

49
proposals
326
concrete measures
6 500 +
events organised

What’s next?

The Commission set out four work streams to respond to the conference’s proposals. The first set of new proposals will be announced in President von der Leyen’s State of the Union address in September 2022. These proposals will be among those to be included in the 2023 Commission Work Programme. To keep the citizens who participated in the conference informed, and to keep up the momentum, a conference feedback event will be organised in autumn 2022.

Disclaimer: The data on this page was last updated on 31 August 2022

Progress in other areas

Achievements

of the von der Leyen Commission