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Sustainable development in the European Union

Eurostat, (2013), Sustainable development in the European Union: 2013 monitoring report of the EU sustainable development strategy, European Union and Eurostat: Luxembourg.

Of the more than 100 indicators presented in this report, 12 have been identified as headline indicators.

They are intended to give an overall picture of whether the EU has achieved progress towards sustainable development in terms of the objectives and targets defined in the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS). An evaluation of progress since 2000 based on these headline indicators shows a rather mixed picture.

Key trends in socioeconomic development

Real GDP per capita — signs of modest recovery?

  • Between 2000 and 2012 real GDP per capita in the EU grew by 0.9 % per year on average. In the period from 1995 to 2007, before the onset of the economic crisis, GDP per capita had been growing continuously in the EU, at an annual average rate of 2.4 %.
  • The financial and economic crisis took hold of the real economy in 2008, with GDP per capita contracting by 4.8 % in 2009 (compared to 2008). Swift implementation of fiscal stimuli and other policy actions at national and EU level contained the worst effects of the crisis and stabilised GDP per capita in 2010 and 2011.
  • In 2012, against the background of a weak recovery, real GDP per capita fell again by 0.6 % compared to 2011.

The recession continues to weigh on the investment climate in the EU

  • Between 2003 and 2007 investment (as a share of GDP) increased moderately, following the economic cycle. As household and corporate confidence tumbled during the financial market turmoil and economic crisis, investment started decreasing rapidly. The sharp fall in investment to a decade low of about 19 % between 2009 and 2011 was mainly driven by business sector cuts.
  • Between 2000 and 2012 the household saving rate in the EU followed the economic cycle. While households reduced their savings during the economic upswing between 2003 and 2007, this trend was reversed by the economic upheaval and increased market uncertainty after the crisis. Despite signs of weak economic recovery, the household saving rate began to fall again after 2009.

For the full Report, press here.