The European Commission has recently presented the Green Paper on Ageing, launching a broad policy debate on the challenges and opportunities of Europe’s ageing society. In addition, a public consultation will run until 21 April 2021 to collect the public’s views on the impact of this demographic trend.

The green paper highlights that rural areas are more likely to need investment in connectivity, access to services and digital skills training. There are growing needs regarding healthcare, education, mobility, connectivity and accessibility. It specifically points out to inequalities faced by rural communities in accessing digital services.

Ageing societies in Europe represent a demographic trend that is likely to shape also mobility patterns in the future. In this regard, the automation and digitalisation of transport can help to decrease the challenges but also present disadvantages for older people who lack basic digital skills or have limited internet access.

The paper underlines that the green and digital transitions present an opportunity to drive productivity growth by promoting innovation through new technologies and business models.

The digital connectivity can help low populated regions to access quality education and quality job opportunities through distance learning. It can help improve access to healthcare for older people, in particular in remote areas.

In terms of accessibility, digital solutions can contribute to social inclusion. Adapted housing solutions and ‘smart homes’ with sensors and automated systems for electrical appliances, lighting and heating, can improve the safety of older people living alone.

All these new opportunities and drivers for innovation will require appropriate training and support in the use of such tools and services.

Read more about the impact of demographic change in Europe.