Ageing and Social Policy in the European Union: A Contextual Overview
This chapter provides a contextual overview of the contemporary issues and debates regarding ageing populations in the European Union (EU). It presents a broad overview of the demographic issues pertinent to the discussion, followed by a summary of the role of the European Commission and the EU in formulation and implementation of social policy. The ageing of the population in Europe, and the policy response, was identified as one of the key common economic and social challenges to be faced at this macro-policy level. The Lisbon Strategy and the Open Method of Coordination provide a means of at least putting social issues on the policy 'map' at EU level, giving a forum in which the member states take on board social objectives on, at least in principle, an equal footing with economic objectives. The European Commission's approach to the formulation and implementation of the employment policy process has been given the title of the European Employment Strategy.