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DART Project – Demographic change in European Regions

In the project Declining, Ageing and Regional Transformation (DART), 13 regions co-operate, identify and transfer appropriate solutions for dealing with demographic change. The project is financed by the European Regional Development Fund. On the 3rd of September 2012 a final conference of this project will take place in Potsdam, Germany. DART has identified several good practices. In this article 2 interesting practices are highlighted.

Europe is getting older

Demographic change constitutes a challenge for many European regions. Low fertility rates and migration are leading to a declining population in many regions. By 2030 every third person in the EU will be 60 or older. This situation has created obstacles to ensuring the provision of adequate public services, while at the same time shrinking regional demands and the need for a sufficiently large qualified workforce are endangering the economic basis of the regions in question.

Two interesting practices described:

Practice 1: North Karelia (Finland) stimulate the economy with a cooperative marketing plan

The province of North Karelia in Finland faces great challenges; the population is ageing and migration trends are negative. The province needs new investors, labour and tourists. The Regional Council of North Karelia initiated a project that creates a new operational model of the marketing based on wide cooperation, especially between industry and commerce. The model includes a new image and website as well as presentations during many fairs and through many media outlets. One of the strengths of this project is that resources of the province were pooled; industry and commerce were strongly involved in the regional marketing and development activities and their financing. Generally, industry and commerce of the province and especially the tourism of North Karelia have benefited from the marketing plan. The Regional Council is currently working on a marketing plan for the period 2011-2013.

Practice 2: Brandenburg (Germany) maintain the quality of health care and social services in rural areas

Brandenburg is the region with the lowest density of general practitioners (GPs) in the whole of Germany. Rural areas especially, with their well-known demographic challenges are not attractive for young doctors. Active GPs, who set up a location to perform surgeries in the beginning of the 90s, are now close to retirement. There is a growing gap in supply and demand and an urgent need for new doctors both in hospitals and surgical positions.

Brandenburg created a package of several measures ranging from recruiting new doctors by offering them financial support for opening a local hospital, scholarships for medicine students willing to work in Brandenburg after their studies, supporting medical staff for general practitioners to the possibility to order medicine by telephone. The Ministry of Health in Brandenburg, the compulsory health insurance companies, the CHI physician’s organization and the Euroregion POMERANIA are working together in this project. Beneficiaries are the people living in rural areas for whom easy access to health care services is maintained, young doctors starting their professional career and nurses.