Brain drain – mitigating challenges associated with population decline

Brain drain, combined with population decline, is driving critical human resources out of several European regions, undermining their growth. The EU is committed to addressing this phenomenon and mitigating the challenges it imposes to the concerned regions.

The term brain drain refers to the emigration of qualified people whose skills are scarce in their place of origin. Brain drain can occur at various levels including the national or regional level and can drive further problems in regions struggling with population decline.

Brain drain will particularly undermine the underlying growth potential of the regions affected and reduce their attractiveness as places worthy of high added-value investments. An ageing population also plays a part in depopulation. It affects all regions, and especially rural regions.

Over the next decade, the population aged 65+ is projected to grow by more than 25% in 1 in 5 EU regions, while the working age population is projected to shrink by 4% at EU level and by more than 10% in 1 in 5 regions.

To this end, the European Commission has launched an initiative to prepare a Communication on brain drain and on mitigating the challenges associated with population decline. This initiative will analyse the various drivers and long-term consequences of brain drain, and potential solutions to stop or even reverse it.

As part of the preparation for this Communication, the Commission has initiated a public consultation to gather feedback on the scale and dynamics of brain drain, and the areas affected. As well as to gather successful practices and regional strategies and policies to tackle the emigration of qualified workers.

The Commission invites interested individuals and institutional stakeholders such as regional and local authorities, youth organisations, universities, chambers of commerce, trade unions and professional organisations partake in this online consultation and provide their input by June 21, 2022.