EUROSAI. Magazine N24 - 2018

Magazine No. 24 - 2018 73 Studies and other articles María Dolores Genaro Moya, Member of the Court of Audit Spanish Court of Audit Introduction By the year 2070, the population of the European Union will have reached 520 million and the working- age population (between 15 and 64 years old) will have fallen to 292 million. This means a fall from 3.3 to 2 in the number of people of working age per person over 65. These forecasts have been obtained from the report by the European Commission “ The 2018 Ageing Report: Economic and Budgetary Projections for the 28 EU Member States (2016-2070) ” and once again confirm that population ageing will be one of the unavoidable main challenges of the coming decades across Europe. Numerous public and private studies have analysed the current and future size of the problem to determine its impact on society, economic growth, productivity, savings, interest rates, public and private services, the labour force and the balance or imbalance of public accounts. Although not all the analyses coincide in their predictions, they do agree on the seriousness of the problem and the need to provide solutions for a variety of scenarios without major social sacrifices in the future; however, they all require a certain degree of solidarity and intergenerational redistribution. The solution does not appear to be an easy one and successive governments, at least in Spain, have adopted partial measures aimed fundamentally at reducing the budgetary impact of the increase in public spending on pensions and at alleviating the effects of ageing by creating or improving public services for the elderly and dependent individuals. However, the adoption of drastic measures is usually put off until a supposedly more appropriate time. In Spain, the concern for the future of the pension system became a subject for parliamentary debate in the mid-1990s, leading to an agreement in 1995 (called the Toledo Pact) that established a number of recommendations. They included the constitution of reserves to lessen the effects of economic cycles, which led to the creation of the Social Security Reserve Fund (under Law 24/1997) to meet the future requirements of the pension system. Furthermore, in 2011, in the midst of an economic crisis, the Spanish Parliament approved the reform of the pension system and set the legal retirement age to 67 years. The reform also increased the number of contribution bases to be taken into account when calculating the regulatory base on which to apply the percentage for years of contribution and the number of years necessary for said percentage to reach 100%. Another important milestone in population ageing was the creation of a System for the Autonomy of and Care for Dependent Individuals in 2006. This involved all the territorial levels of the Public Administration to guarantee basic conditions and provide levels of protection for people who depend on others for their everyday activities and for those in need of support for their personal autonomy under equal conditions. Possible contributions by SAIs to the challenges posed by ageing Obviously, this scenario of population ageing brings significant challenges for the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) insofar as our reports must contribute to greater efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector in a wide variety of areas related to ageing and its economic and social consequences in our respective countries. But, how can SAIs help address the challenges ageing poses for the public sector and society in general? Firstly, our audits must contribute to a more efficient management of public services for the older population, highlighting the challenges they will have to face as a result of a probable exponential increase in demand in the coming decades. Accordingly, we need to determine whether services such as healthcare, POPULATION AGEING: HOW CAN SUPREME AUDIT INSTITUTIONS HELP ADDRESS THIS EUROPEAN CHALLENGE?