Interregional cooperation to meet the challenges of declining and ageing

The Declining, Ageing and Regional Transformation (DART) project sees 13 regions across the EU cooperating together to address the shared challenges presented by an ageing and declining population.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

Through the DART project, the regions are working together to identify, benchmark and transfer appropriate solutions to this widespread demographic challenge with the aim of formulating an integrated strategy that strengthens the economy, educational and health care services, and ultimately prevents the social and economic exclusion of people living in shrinking regions.

Addressing the downward spiral

By 2030, every third person in the EU will be 60 or older. This ageing demographic, combined with a declining population, threatens to endanger the provision of adequate public and private services and a sustainable economic basis in many European regions.

The DART project, supported by the ERDF through the INTERREG IVC programme for interregional cooperation, offers the 13 participating regions the chance to exchange their experience of projects on this issue and to underpin them with adapted standards and indicators. It also provides the opportunity for regions to work out innovative and integrated solutions that would maintain quality of life and enhance social inclusion for all generations in declining and ageing areas.

The good practices will be combined and formulated into an integrated strategy for a ‘life cycle proof neighbourhood’, incorporating the three main topics of the project: education and lifelong learning, health care and social services, and tradition and innovative economy.

Integrating DART findings into policy

Within the DART regions there are already several projects dealing with demographic change underway. Good practices from these projects will be shared among partners and ‘best practices’ will be selected to be showcased at three main project conferences between spring 2011 and spring 2012.

It is hoped that these best practices, as well as new products and services to improve the quality of life and a set of indicators to benchmark regions, will be incorporated into policies relating to demographic change.

Matthias Platzeck, Prime Minister of Brandenburg in Germany, says, “The impact of demographic change becomes more and more apparent in our regions. It is necessary to tackle the challenges perceptively and exchange best practices with other European regions affected by demographic change.”

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