In June 2010, the European Council (a body that defines the general political direction of the European Union) launched a strategy to establish “a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy with high levels of employment, productivity, and social cohesion.” They called it The Europe 2020 Strategy.
The Europe 2020 Strategy’s key objectives are expressed as five targets: employment, research and development, climate change and energy, education, and poverty and social exclusion.
The latest data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, suggests that the Eurozone was on target before heading into recession. The target employment rate for 20- to 64-year-olds in 2020 is 75%; from the year 2000 employment rose to 70.3% but has fallen to 68.6% with the economic crisis.
The percentage of GDP invested on research and development rose steadily to 2.1% in 2009. A slight decrease occurred over the following 12 months.
In terms of climate the EU has lowered the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by 15% compared to 1990 – though emissions have dropped at their fastest rate during the economic crisis, giving a skewed picture of the what the situation would be a full production. Renewable energy contributions have risen to 12.5% in 2010 from 8.1% in 2004. Primary energy consumption has fallen overall since 2005 with a slight rise in 2010.
Education levels are well on there way to reaching the proposed target of less than 10% of all 18- to 24-year-olds with at least secondary education and not in further education and a substantial increase of 30- to 34-year-olds having completed tertiary education.
The final key objective is to reduce the number of people affected by poverty or social exclusion to 20 million. In 2005 that number was 123.9 million; by 2009 it had fallen to 113.9 million but with the onset of the economic crisis the number rose by two million to 115.7 in 2010.