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For Europe’s far proper, the tendencies throughout the continent level to disaster: Birthrates are slumping, populations are growing older and entire communities are shrinking. Proper-wing nationalists bemoan liberal agendas, feminism and supposedly sinister plots to interchange White Europeans with overseas migrants.

However the image is extra sophisticated and uneven inside the continent, with the decline way more acute in sure international locations than others — particularly these whose faltering economies incentivize the emigration of the younger and expert. Specialists consider demographic tendencies in Europe will necessitate extra migration from elsewhere, regardless of the objections of the anti-immigrant proper.

I touched on these points throughout an interview with Dubravka Suica, one of many vice presidents of the European Fee, the European Union’s govt physique. Her portfolio has a mixed deal with demography and democracy. With the previous, Suica is on the entrance traces of efforts to assist situations throughout the continent, supporting these within the care trade and bettering the work-life steadiness of bizarre Europeans. On the latter, she leads a sprawling initiative often called the Convention on the Way forward for Europe, a collection of debates and discussions bringing in bizarre residents throughout the continent that has already formed new coverage in Brussels.

The interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

TWV: What are the demographic challenges dealing with Europe?

Suica: One third of European households are single households, be it children or older individuals. Sure, within the final 50 years, European life expectancy has grown by 10 years extra on common, which is an enormous achievement and phenomenal. On the identical time, it’s an enormous problem for nationwide states, for pension programs, for health-care programs. So we are attempting to deal with these points, in fact, understanding that … we’re shrinking. We’re growing older and we’ve got to search out the way in which how one can steadiness this, understanding what’s going on in numerous components of the world, in Latin America, in Africa. Europe is totally reverse.

Would you say the tendencies represent a disaster?

I wouldn’t say that it’s a real demographic disaster. We’re utilizing totally different instruments to assist make Europe and Europe’s financial system and social life sustainable. We’re investing within the cohesion coverage [E.U. funding for job creation and sustainable development projects]. Second, we’re utilizing AI and robotics for various functions massively, and selling it. And third, we’re managing authorized migration, with out which we might not be capable to have sustainable labor markets. Managing authorized migration signifies that those that have a proper to asylum, fantastic, they’ve a proper to return. Those that don’t have a proper — they’ve to return.

You additionally handle the Convention on the Way forward for Europe, a serious train in “deliberative democracy.” What’s the hyperlink between that effort and the demographic agenda that’s additionally in your plate?

What’s the connection between democracy and demography? As a result of residents are simply influenced by populists and so they begin believing them. And this is the reason we’ve got to method residents, we’ve got to be on the bottom. And naturally, it’s not solely me, however all politicians at totally different ranges.

So do you see your position as a de facto rebuke of far-right populism?

I wouldn’t say that. It’s not that blunt. My position is to return nearer to our residents and to point out each European that she or he can affect drafting European coverage. We have been listening and following what residents informed us, and this was one thing very brave. No democracy on the planet has ever tried to do one thing related, no less than at such a big scale. After all, some individuals in rural areas and elsewhere typically really feel left behind as a result of there isn’t any infrastructure, there aren’t any companies. They usually begin blaming democracy.

We are attempting to battle overseas interference, battle faux information. On the identical time, we’re additionally combating the undemocratic tendencies from inside and we’ve got to show our residents, our kids from a really early age, how one can be accountable residents. This isn’t going to occur in a single day.

You come from Croatia, a rustic that emerged from battle not way back. What are your impressions of the continuing battle in Ukraine over this previous 12 months?

[The Ukrainians] are combating for us. They’re combating for themselves. They’re combating for Europe. They’re combating for America. They’re combating for our values. I lived via battle, sadly. At a bigger scale, the identical doctrine is used now by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, as by [Serbian despot Slobodan] Milosevic in Yugoslavia in opposition to the Croats and Bosniaks. So for us know, we don’t know when the battle will end, however we’ve got to do our utmost to be able to assist these individuals. And the time is of essence right here.

A slate of migration reforms sit excessive on the European Fee’s agenda, however appears to have fallen by the wayside due to the battle. How essential is its passage?

This is essential for Europe, . In 2015, there was an enormous disaster and we didn’t handle it nicely. However now there are crises not solely in Ukraine, however elsewhere on the planet due to local weather, battle and different causes. We actually have to point out that we’re able to resolving this downside as a result of within the final hundred years, every European was as soon as a migrant. Everybody was a migrant, be it due to the Second World Warfare or be it due to totally different penalties. And I believe that we’ve got to actually present empathy and solidarity.

Europe has embraced hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in a spirit that critics say was absent in 2015 and 2016, when an exodus of Syrian refugees and different migrants arrived on the continent. Do you see the double normal there?

It’s true that we triggered a short lived safety directive that was adopted in 2001, and we triggered it for the primary time for Ukrainian individuals. Sooner or later, we’ve got to deal with all [refugees] in the identical approach, so to not have particular therapy for Ukrainians and for others. For the primary time ever, [refugees were treated] in order that they have the identical rights as European residents — all the pieces from education to jobs to well being care. They’re handled as if they’re us. However sooner or later, we should always have the identical method for everyone. I believe that it is a lesson realized.

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