JRC contributes to the 6th Cohesion Report
JRC analysis and modelling work on measuring the distance to the EU targets for smart and inclusive growth through the Europe 2020 Index, and addressing how to assess the social issues in a region and over time through the EU Human Development Index (EU HDI) have fed into the 6th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion, released on 23 July by the European Commission. The report examines the state of cohesion of the Union and highlights challenges faced by national, regional and local authorities in overcoming the impact of the financial and economic crises.
The work carried out by the JRC-COIN on the Europe 2020 index show that the distance to EU targets varies more with wide distances for the less developed Member States (Map 6.2 and 6.3). The average distance to the EU target is relatively wider for Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Poland and Italy. The distance to national targets tends to be a little smaller as Member States have opted to aim for a lower and more realistic target for R&D expenditure if their starting level is low, which is the case in most less developed countries. This suggests both a sense of realism and that spatial concentration of R&D can be beneficial.
For the employment, education and poverty or social exclusion national targets, however, Member States with the lowest rates have often opted for ambitious targets, which implies that a substantial effort is needed to achieve them. This shows that lagging Member States are eager to catch up with the rest of the EU and recognise the potential negative externalities of the spatial concentration of low employment rates, low educational attainment levels and high rates of poverty or social exclusion.
The national targets for GHG emissions in the effort-sharing mechanism involve a reduction for the more developed Member States which have far higher emission levels per head than less developed Member States which are allowed a moderate increase. This is a fairer distribution of effort than specifying equal cutbacks which recognises that it does not matter where GHG emissions occur.
JRC-COIN work also included the development of a regional EU Human Development Index (EU-HDI), which distils a simple, yet comprehensive picture of regions human development progress since 2008. The EU HDI provides an alternative view of development showing the progress made in the capital regions in the Central and Eastern Member States and highlighting the continuing problems in Greece and Southern Italy. As an indicator, it comes closer than GDP to the issues that concern people: health, education, income and employment opportunities.
The JRC results show that human development is improving in Central and Eastern Member States, but the crisis reduced it in Spain, Greece and Ireland. The EU-HDI is based on six indicators which capture health, education and income/employment. The two health indicators are life expectancy adjusted for health satisfaction and infant mortality. The two education indicators are the share of people aged 18–24 not in employment, education or training (NEETs) and the share of population aged 25–64 with a tertiary education degree. The two income/activity indicators are gross adjusted disposable household income per head in PPS terms (‘adjusted’ in the sense of including social transfers in kind such as government-provided education and healthcare services or childcare) and the employment rate of population aged 20–64. In 2012, human development was considerably lower than average in most central and eastern regions, Southern Italy and Greece (Map 2.29). The changes between 2008 and 2012 are striking, with a pronounced deterioration in the index in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Croatia and parts of Italy and to a lesser extent in some regions in the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark (Map 2.30).