The impact of European population dynamics on migration policies
Addendum to the report
| Doc. 14143 Add.
| 11 October 2016
- Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons
- Rapporteur :
- Ms Kristin Ørmen JOHNSEN,
- Addendum approved by
the committee on 11 October 2016. 2016 - Fourth part-session
1 On 26 and 27 September 2016,
I visited Chisinau (Republic of Moldova) on a fact-finding mission
to complete my report. During its meeting in Paris on 22 September
2016, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons
approved the report and as the mission took place subsequently,
agreed that during the October part-session I would present an addendum
containing my findings. Taking this opportunity, I would like to
express my thanks to the Moldovan delegation and its secretariat,
as well as to the secretariat of the Council of Europe office in
the Republic of Moldova for their assistance in the preparation
of this mission.
2 Demographic challenges
in the Republic of Moldova
2 As is reflected in my report,
the demographic situation in the Republic of Moldova is characterised
by a very low fertility rate (1.3 children per woman) and one of
the lowest life expectancy rates in Europe (65 years for men and
73.4 years for women), resulting in a negative natural growth of
Moreover, the population of the Republic of Moldova is rapidly
ageing, with 16.7% of the population older than 60 years old.Note
share of the active population in relation to the inactive population
of both young and old (the “dependency ratio”) is 55.2% (2014).
The projections indicate that by 2035 the dependency ratio will increase
4 In addition, due to the long-lasting economic crisis, the
instability created by the foreign military presence in Moldovan
territory and the lack of employment opportunities, a large number
of the working age population has left the country in search of
better living conditions. It is difficult to give a precise number
for Moldovans working abroad, but as I was told by representatives
of international organisations in the Republic, around 850 000 people
have left the country to the Russian Federation and to European
Union countries, which represents around 25% of the Moldovan population.
The most alarming tendency is the emigration of young people, the
country’s main population potential.
Emigration for employment purposes, especially from rural
areas, has created a worrying social problem of children being left
behind (children whose parents have emigrated, leaving them with
grandparents or other relatives). More than 100 000 children have
been left behind by migrant parents.Note
The absence of one or both parents
has adverse effects on children, especially in relation to their
psychological condition and health and on their performance at school.
There are serious problems of drug addiction, an increase in teenage pregnancies,
sexually transmitted diseases and even suicides amongst this group
of minors. They are also vulnerable to human trafficking and labour
exploitation. Migrant parents’ lives are apparently also affected
by these difficult situations, as there is also a trend of increased
divorce rates among them.
All of these factors have led to a significant decline in
the Moldovan population. Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain
official data of the population of the Republic, as until now the
results of the 2014 census have not yet been announced. However,
experts from the Centre of Demographic Research informed me that
their estimation of the population of the Republic of Moldova is
around 2.9 millionNote
which means that during the last 10 years the Moldovan population
has dropped drastically by 400 000 people.
7 The current demographic trends
in the Republic of Moldova have created important challenges for
the Government of the Republic of Moldova, which should be addressed
8 The government has adopted several national strategies and
action plans aimed at combating negative population tendencies,
such as the National Strategic Programme on Demographic Security
2011-2025, the National Strategy in the Field of Migration and Asylum
2011-2020 and a national “Diaspora-25” strategy.
9 A governmental body, the National Commission on Population
and Development, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, co-ordinates
the implementation of a cross-sectorial action plan on demographic
security. The Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and the Family
is a leading agency on demographic policy. The National Bureau for
Diaspora Relations has developed and implemented a number of programmes
aimed at engaging diaspora potential in the economic development
of the country. The National Bureau for Migration and Asylum has
prepared several decisions adopted by the government facilitating
the reintegration of labour migrants in the country. The government
has also introduced paternity leave.
However, during my mission both international organisations
and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) stressed that
the measures taken by the government were insufficient to reverse
the negative dynamic of the population development. The assessment
of national policies concluded that, even if well-financed and fully
implemented, the National Strategy on Demographic Security would
not lead to the positive changes required for the population dynamics.Note
Moreover, the current education system,
in particular vocational training, does not meet the needs of the
labour market and should be drastically reformed. The reproductive
rights services are very limited in rural areas, which leads to
high levels of infertility, health problems and early pregnancies.
The problem of the ageing of the Moldovan population also requires
an adequate response. The present retirement age of 57 for women
and 62 for men greatly limits the potential of the older population’s
contribution to the workforce.
11 Another important problem pointed out by international organisations
and civil society is a lack of continuity of policies between different
governments, which significantly impedes the necessary reform process in
4 Conclusions and
12 The only remedy to the alarming
tendency towards the decline of the Moldovan population would be
a governmental strategy of economic improvement accompanied by measures
to reverse the fall in population.
13 This would imply structural changes in the economy, with an
emphasis on the development of the agricultural sector and rural
areas, where 60% of the population lives.
14 The concrete measures for improving the demographic situation
in the Republic of Moldova should include an increase in accessibility
to reproductive health services, especially in rural areas; improvement
of primary health-care services; revision of the maternity leave
system; revision of the pension age and promoting life-long learning;
reduction of the mortality rate by improving health services for
the elderly. The National Programme on Demographic Security needs
to be revised to address the key demographic challenges: low fertility,
demographic ageing, relative low life expectancy and significant
15 To reduce emigration and the ageing of the workforce, the
Republic of Moldova should invest in the younger generations by
reforming the vocational training system, supporting youth initiatives
and promoting small businesses and creating jobs for young people.
Special support should be provided to vulnerable families, including
children who have been left behind.
16 Territorial reform is also needed to optimise local governance
structures and reduce unnecessary expenses. The government should
also provide adequate financial resources for the implementation
of the above-mentioned action plans and support the work of NGOs.
17 Finally, I completely agree with the conclusions of the donors
and NGOs interviewed that bad governance, corruption and the lack
of a fair justice system are the main factors which hamper economic development,
prevent international investments in the country and lead to a huge
exodus of the population. The Government of the Republic of Moldova
has a difficult task before it to link the social development of
the country to economic growth, while at the same time trying to
restrain security threats posed by the foreign presence in its territory.