Europa-2020-targets: How is the EU progressing?


The Europe 2020 strategy is the European Union's agenda for jobs and growth for the current decade. With the publication "Smarter, greener, more inclusive?" Eurostat provides information on latest statistics each year useful to monitor the progress towards the targets of the strategy. Now the 2018 edition has been issued.

As a main objective, the strategy strives to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion in the Member States, while reducing the impact on the natural environment. To reach this objective, the EU has adopted targets to be reached by 2020 in five areas:

  • employment,
  • research & development (R&D),
  • climate change & energy,
  • education and
  • poverty reduction.

These have been translated into national targets in order to reflect the situation and possibilities of each Member State to contribute to the common goal. A set of nine headline indicators and additional sub-indicators, compiled by Eurostat, give an overview of how close the EU is to its overall targets.The European Social Fund, with its operational programme, makes a valuable contribution to achieving the objectives.

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, issues the 2018 edition of the publication "Smarter, greener, more inclusive?" which provides information on past trends and latest statistics useful to monitor the progress towards the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.

A complete picture of trends in the Europe 2020 headline indicators

The analysis of Eurostat is based on the Europe 2020 headline indicators used to monitor progress towards the strategy's targets. Other indicators focusing on specific subgroups of society or on complementary issues are used to deepen the analysis and present a broader picture.

The publication aims to shed light on the trends in the headline indicators over the past years and helps understand the factors behind the changes observed so far. The radar chart below presents the current situation of the EU by showing the progress made since 2008 and the distance still to cover towards the Europe 2020 key targets.

Europe 2020 headline indicators: target values and progress since 2008

Europe 2020 headline indicators: target values and progress since 2008
© Eurostat

Since 2008, substantial progress has been made in the area of climate change and energy through the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, the positive trend has however slowed down.
In the area of education, the EU is within reaching distance of both headline targets. The most recent developments in R&D investment and poverty alleviation are less promising, while the EU’s employment target can be reached if the growth recorded over the past few years continues.

What is the situation in each EU Member State?

The five thematic chapters of the publication are followed by a country profile for each Member State. These country profiles give an overall picture of the situation in relation to the national Europe 2020 targets.

Europe 2020 strategy headline indicators for the European Union

Europe 2020 strategy headline indicators for the European Union
© Eurostat

Country Profile Germany

Long-term unemployment, used in Germany as a national target in the area of poverty and social exclusion, went down by 58.5 % between 2008 and 2017. This allowed the country to significantly exceed its target of reducing long-term unemployment by 20 % by 2020. Germany had already met its 77 % employment target in 2013 and continued to increase its employment rate until 2017. In 2017, Germany also surpassed its national target on tertiary educational attainment by 7.0 percentage points, with 49.0 % of 30 to 34 year olds having completed post-secondary level education or equivalent. Germany’s national target differs from that of other Member States because it includes post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4) in addition to ISCED levels 5 to 8. In addition, Germany was only 0.1 percentage points away from meeting its target for early leavers from education and training in 2017. In 2016, the country almost reached its national targets for R&D expenditure. Between 2008 and 2016, Germany reduced the distance to its national targets on primary energy consumption and renewable energy by more than half. However, a gap of 8.3 percentage points to its target on GHG emissions in non-ETS sectors persisted in 2016.

Change since 2008 in relation to national targets

Strategy 2020: Country profil Germany 2018

National Europe 2020 indicators: most recent data and targets

Europe 2020 strategy headline indicators for the European Union
© Eurostat