We often hear the argument that, over the next decade or two, the European economy is likely to come off the boil owing to the ageing of the population of Europe. This is, and always has been, stuff and nonsense. The forecast only makes sense if everything stays the same. Of course, it doesn’t.
To start with, the enlargement of the EU has brought into Europe tens of millions of young workers from Bulgaria and Romania – they will make an appearance in the European jobs market from 2014 onwards. Then there are the tens of millions of young Turks whose hopes are pinned to Turkish accession. And then, on top of that, there are tens of millions of youngsters in North Africa, who are awaiting the spread of Europe across the Mediterranean. All of these will swell the European workforce.
Of course, there are those who do not want to see an enlarged EU. Their answer to the impending labour crisis is to enlarge the workforce organically – mainly by raising the age at which Europeans retire. It is in this context that the recent raising of the French retirement age can be viewed. France is lukewarm about Turkish accession to the EU, which implies that French workers will have to retire later as a consequence.© The European Futures Observatory 2010
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