De Europese Commissie heeft op 27 januari 2021 een groenboek gepubliceerd over de vergrijzing van Europa. De bedoeling van dit initiatief is om een breed publiek debat te lanceren over het onderwerp en bij de publicatie hoorde dan ook een openbare consultatieronde tot 21 april 2021. Omdat deze ‘green paper’ volgens ons enkele belangrijke elementen over het hoofd ziet hebben we deelgenomen aan de consultatieronde. MinderMensen heeft de volgende opmerkingen doorgegeven aan de Europese Commissie:
Dear sir, madam,
Hereby I wish to submit my opinion on the Green Paper on Ageing on behalf of MinderMensen, a Belgian initiative that wishes to raise awareness around the problem on overpopulation in Belgium and Europe. I wish to focus on three issues that are mentionned in the Green Paper, namely the idea of economic growth, the use of migration as part of the solution, and the lack of a long term vision on a sustainable and humane population size.
First and foremost, the paper starts on the assumption that economic growth is a necessity. It is widely accepted that the idea of infinite economic growth is not sustainable, both socially and ecologically. The only purpose of an economic system is to be able to provide the necessary services and products for its population. If that can be achieved without economic growth, it should not be seen as a necessity but rather as a danger because it would increase the pressure on our environment without contributing to the quality of life.
There are two reasons why further economic growth should not be our main concern: a fairer distribution of wealth and a shrinking population size. First, if the total amount of produced wealth is more fairly distributed amongst Europeans one would realize that the total size of the economy should not need to grow further in order to fullfill its purpose. Second, if we embrace population decline we can increase per capita wealth (where and when required) without increasing the total size of the economy. The EU must abandon the idea of infinite economic growth as a necessity.
Increasing migration is an ancient strategy of governments to increase their active population. Just like the assumption on economic growth, this reasoning is unsustainable, even unethical. Imoprting labor to compensate ageing is a ponzi-scheme: you’ll always have to increase migration because migrants age just like everybody else. This strategy also denies the moral consesquences of ‘active’ migration. By sucking up only the most skilled persons you are actively contributing to the empoverishement of the country of origine. A sustainable and humane society should be able to develop its own skilled labor. Therefore, the EU should be focussing on developing its own skilled labor force, not on importing it from elswhere.
Finally, the EU has no long term vision on a sustainable and humane population size. Just like economic growth, it assumes that population size should also grow indefinitely. The EU should embrance population decline as a positive development and consequence of a wealthy and sustainable society. To compensate for the relative decline of the active population we should reorganize our socio-economic system from the bottom up. Instead of having younger generations pay the health and pension system of the older generations, we should be evolving towards a system where each generations pays its own bills. The fact that only a fraction of our current population is really necessary to produce the necessary products and services should also be reflected into our socio-economic organisation.
MinderMensen is convinced that these considerations should be integrated in a hollistic long term vision on European demography that would be advantaegous to all.