BRUSSELS, Belgium, NOV. 12, 2009 ( Europe is immersed in an unprecedented demographic winter, with a bleak outlook and a catastrophic future, according to the Institute for Family Policies, which presented a report to the European Parliament on Wednesday.

According to the report, "the aging population, critical birthrate, escalating abortions, the collapse of marriage, the explosion in family breakups and the emptying of homes are the main problems of Europeans."

"Europe is at an historic crossroads: It either makes a real and integral pledge for the family, maternity and childhood, or maintains the insufficient aid that has caused the present bleak outlook with catastrophic prospects in the near future," said Eduardo Hertfelder, president of the institute, during the presentation.

The data shows how the indicators of population, birthrate, marriages, family and home breakups have worsened over the last 28 years.

People who are older than 65 already outnumber by more than 6.5 million children under age 14, and every year fewer children are born.

Moreover, according to the IFP, there is "a collapse of marriages, with increasingly fewer marriages and more broken ones -- one million divorces a year -- and with homes being emptied; two out of every three European homes have no children."

Obvious consequences

The president of the IFP affirmed that this "is causing evident effects, both in the economic as well as the social dimension."

He explained: "In the economic dimension, there is an increase in public spending because of the aging population, with an increase in investments dedicated to pensions and health expenses. Expenses that, added to the effects caused by the fall in public earnings due to the deficit of the birthrate can end by causing the reduction/elimination of social loans and, in the end, the bankruptcy of the welfare state."

In regard to the social effects, Hertfelder observed that "a de-structured society is emerging with great intensity because of family breakups, with increasingly solitary homes, with growing individualism and a loss of values and references that make social cohesion possible."

If the tendency is not halted, by 2050 the European population will have lost 27.3 million people, one out of every three persons will be older than 65 and only one out of every eight persons will be younger than 15, while the average age will be 46.7.

In regard to abortion, the IFP spoke of an "explosion" -- 28 million abortions in the EU since 1990, making it the first cause of mortality in Europe.

However today, the presenters added, "Europe increasingly allocates less money to the family: Aid destined to families not only has fallen by up to 2.1% of the GNP over the last 10 years, but in addition it has diminished its weight in relation to social expenses, scarcely reaching one euro per person."

A "growing awareness" is necessary, Hertfelder affirmed, and "both the [European] Commission as well as the [European] Parliament promoting support for the family, maternity, and the conciliation of labor and family life as the answer to the demographic winter."

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On the Net:

More information on the Institute for Family Policies and the full report (in Spanish):