Theme 1: Socioeconomic development Theme 1: Socioeconomic development

Sustainable socio-economic development is a core element of the European Union's Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS).

The strategy sets out the objective of promoting a prosperous, innovative, knowledge-rich, competitive and eco-efficient economy, which provides high living standards and full and high-quality employment throughout the European Union.

Headline indicator Operational indicators Explanatory indicators


Real GDP per capita, growth rate and totals  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Economic development

Investment by institutional sectors Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Real adjusted gross disposable income of households per capita  Table, Graph and Map Explanatory text (Metadata)

Dispersion of regional GDP per inhabitant  (data currently under revision)

Net national income  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Household saving rate  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Innovation, competitiveness and eco-efficiency
Real labour productivity growth per hour worked  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata) Eco-innovation index  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Total R&D expenditure  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Real effective exchange rate - 37 trading partners  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Turnover from innovation  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Energy intensity of the economy  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)
Total employment rate  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Young people neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET)  Table, Graph and Map
Employment rate, by educational attainment  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Dispersion of regional employment rates, by sex  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Total unemployment rate  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Nominal unit labor cost  Table, Graph and Map  Explanatory text (Metadata)

Key trends (2015 monitoring)

The trends observed in the economic dimension of the sustainable development show mostly favourable picture for the EU.

  • Between 2000 and 2014 real GDP per capita in the EU increased by more than 13 %. Growth was more pronounced before the economic crisis. In the short term between 2009 and 2014 the EU economy grew at an average annual rate of 0.7 %.
  • Between 2002 and 2014 investment (as a share of GDP) declined in the EU.
  • Disposable household income decreased in particular in the Member States hardest hit by the economic crisis. The rest of the EU households experienced a continuous improvement in their disposable income in the period between 2003 and 2013.
  • Since 2000 the EU household saving rate dropped moderately by 1.4 percentage points and was strongly subdued in 2014 compared with 2009.
  • Labour productivity increased almost continuously between 2000 and 2013. Some gains were reversed between 2007 and 2009 as a result of the economic downturn, but in 2010 labour productivity rebounded to its pre-crisis level and has continued to grow.
  • Energy intensity in the EU has improved. It declined by 15.9 % between 2002 and 2013 as a result of absolute decoupling of gross inland energy consumption from economic growth.
  • R&D expenditure as a share of GDP increased slightly between 2000 and 2013.
  • In terms of éco-innovation activities, the majority of Member States performed lower in 2013 compared with 2010.
  • Between 2002 and 2014 the EU employment rate rose moderately by 2.5 percentage points. Short-term developments in the labour market have been much less favourable. The economic recession and prolonged labour market stagnation held back employment between 2008 and 2013.
  • In 2014, the share of young people neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET rate) was equivalent to its 2009 level of 12.4 % and slightly lower than its 2002 level of 13 %.
  • The overall unemployment rate in the EU followed a trend of decreasing gradually before the crisis and increasing sharply afterwards. In 2013 EU unemployment reached a record high of 10.9 % but decreased slightly in 2014.

More information on the evaluation of changes for the EU Sustainable Development Indicators (EU SDIs) on socio-economic development is available on Statistics Explained: Sustainable development - socio-economic development.