Medio ambiente

The new Eco-Innovation Observatory: monitoring Member States’ performance


After more than a decade of monitoring green economy developments across the EU, the Eco-Innovation Observatory (EIO) has helped to build a shared understanding of what eco-innovation is, as well as why and how it should be supported by policy interventions, businesses and consumers. The EIO regularly produces country profiles that explore the relevant trends and effects at the national level. This year, the country profiles focused on digital eco-innovation for a circular economy, with Luxemburg topping the EIO’s rankings.

The EIO has developed the Eco-Innovation Index to assess and illustrate eco-innovation performance across all EU countries. By taking a holistic view of economic, environmental and social performance, the Eco-Innovation Index complements other innovation measurement approaches such as the EU Innovation Scoreboard.

The index captures different aspects of eco-innovation through 16 indicators grouped into five thematic areas: Eco-innovation inputs (financial or human resources investments); Eco-innovation activities; Eco-innovation outputs (patents, academic literature and media contributions); Resource efficiency outcomes (material, energy, water efficiency and GHG emission intensity); and Socio-economic outcomes (employment, exports).

The index measures the performance of individual Member States against the EU average, both overall and in relation to each set of indicators, illustrating each country’s strengths and weaknesses in eco-innovation. The composite index is scaled to a reference value, with 100 representing the EU average. Countries are then ranked into ‘clusters’ according to their relative score: ‘eco-innovation leaders’, ‘average performers’, etc. For more information about the calculation methodology, see the technical note for EcoI Index 2019.

Key trends of the EU Eco-Innovation Index 2018-2019

The latest index ranks most countries in the same country clusters they have been in since 2015, despite some minor changes. In 2019, Luxembourg leads the ranking, followed by Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Germany and the UK as ‘eco-innovation leaders’. Ten Member States were labelled as ‘average eco-innovation performers’, led by Italy and joined by Latvia and Belgium, who improved their ranking. They replaced Croatia and Lithuania, who joined the Member States still ‘catching-up with eco-innovation’, with scores ranging from 82 (Lithuania) to 34 (Cyprus). Except for Greece, all countries in this last group are Member States that joined the European Union in or after 2004.

Further details and explanation can be found in the EIO Brief, including the results under each indicator category. Indeed, some countries might perform very well in one category, despite being at the lower end of the overall ranking. This is true of Malta, which manages its scarce resources effectively, achieving a score of 198 in this category, just one point below Luxemburg, the EU’s leader in resource efficiency.

This is where the detailed country profiles come into play: in addition to providing the detailed results under each sub-indicator, they document the most striking eco-innovation activities in the country over the two-year period covered. The profiles discuss trends and key sectors, illustrated with good practices from businesses, research and civil society. Barriers and drivers are analysed to understand how a country’s performance can change over time, and where its strengths are in terms of implementing the environmental transition. Finally, it reviews relevant policy developments, from national governmental strategies, to targeted or localised measures. A mapping of support programmes relevant to eco-innovation is also included.