European Neighbourhood Policy - East - indicators for sustainable development goals

Data extracted in April 2021.

Planned article update: March 2022.

Infant mortality decreased in all ENP-East countries over 2009-2019. The infant mortality in Belarus has been equal to or lower than in the EU since 2010.

Contrary to the situation in the EU, where female unemployment was higher than male, in 2019 the unemployment rate for women was lower than for men in Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.

All European Neighbourhood Policy-East countries except Belarus reported a lower youth unemployment rate in 2019 than in 2009. The biggest improvements were recorded in Armenia and Georgia; nevertheless, in both countries almost a third of youths were unemployed in 2019.


Infant mortality rate, 2009-2019 (per thousand live births)

This article is part of an online publication and presents a set of indicators in relation to sustainable development; it focuses on information for the six countries that together form the European Neighbourhood Policy-East (ENP-East) region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Data shown for Georgia exclude the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia over which Georgia does not exercise control and the data shown for Moldova exclude areas over which the government of the Republic of Moldova does not exercise control. The latest data for Ukraine generally exclude the illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol and the territories which are not under control of the Ukrainian government (see specific footnotes for precise coverage).

This article covers a selection of the sustainable development goals, their indicators and the data available to measure progress towards the goals in the ENP-East countries and the European Union. It starts with an outline of the SDGs and the EU’s approach to them. It continues with outline data on the following SDGs: SDG 1 Ending poverty in all of its forms across the world; SDG 3 Ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being; SDG 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; SDG 8 Promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; and SDG 17 Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development.

Full article

Sustainable development goals

SDG banner.png

In September 2015, the United Nations (UN) adopted an agenda titled Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

In order to keep track of the European Union (EU)’s progress for delivering this 2030 agenda in a systematic and transparent way, Eurostat, together with other services of the European Commission (EC), seeks to highlight, through the release of a wide range of official statistics, the progress being made and the challenges being faced with respect to the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Both the UN and the EU have established detailed indicator lists for regular monitoring of the SDGs. This article presents ad-hoc information for ENP-East countries and is based on indicators that currently form part of Eurostat’s regular data collection exercise for ENP-East countries, rather than a specific data collection exercise related to SDGs; the data can be found in Eurostat’s online database (Eurobase).

This article follows a descriptive approach, presenting a statistical picture of the situation for a number of SDGs that have been selected primarily on the basis of data availability. In consequence, the article covers only 5 of the 17 SDGs. It provides a summary of the targets developed by the UN for each of these five goals and presents specific indicators — among those selected by the UN — to measure progress being made towards achieving these goals.

Ending poverty in all of its forms across the world

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Sustainable Development Goal 1 is concerned with ‘ending poverty in all of its forms across the world’. One of the targets to measure progress in this area concerns reducing by at least half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages who are living in poverty, according to national definitions, by 2030 (Target 1.2). To do so, the UN has defined Indicator 1.2.1 as the proportion of population living below the national poverty line, by sex and age.

The proportion of the population considered to be at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers is presented in Figure 1; this share is calculated in relation to those living with an income that is inferior to 60 % of the national median equivalised income, the most commonly used definition for the poverty line. Poverty rates measure the proportion of the population who are living below the poverty line. They are a relative measure because they are calculated separately for each country. A person who is below the poverty line in one country might have the same income as someone above the poverty line in another country.

The data shown in Figure 1 are presented after any redistribution of income, in other words including social transfers. All of the ENP-East countries showed a fall in the proportion of the population at risk of poverty after transfers over the period 2009-2019 (Ukraine 2009-2016). Particular strong declines in this proportion were recorded in Moldova, down 9.4 percentage points to 12.9 % in 2019, and Armenia, down 7.7 percentage points to 26.4 %. Despite this substantial reduction, the proportion of the population at risk of poverty in Armenia remained the highest among the ENP-East countries, ahead of Ukraine (23.5 %; 2016) and Georgia (20.1 %). Belarus had the lowest value during the whole period 2009-2019 with a moderate reduction from 11.2 % to 10.9 %. The change was also fairly moderate in Georgia, with a reduction by 1.6 points. Data for Azerbaijan are not available.

In the EU, the share of the population that was living at risk of poverty in 2019 amounted to 16.5 % after social transfers were taken into account; this was the same proportion as that recorded in 2010.

Note that the indicator shown relates only to monetary poverty or distribution of income. It takes no account of needs, living expenses, savings, properties, wealth or debt. The risk of poverty and social exclusion is a broader indicator, based upon two additional criteria, namely, material deprivation and low work intensity.

Figure 1: Persons at risk of poverty after transfers, 2009-2019
(% share on total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_li02) and the annual data collection cycle – see the chapter Data sources towards the end of the article.

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being

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Sustainable Development Goal 3 seeks to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being’. Within this context, Target 3.2 is focused on child mortality, including ending preventable deaths of new-born children by 2030, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to 12 deaths or fewer per 1 000 live births.

Traditionally, official statistics have measured the infant mortality rate, which is based on the number of children dying before their first birthday per 1 000 live births.

SDG indicator 3.2.2 measures instead the neonatal mortality rate, deaths of new-borns during the first 28 days of life. As with the infant mortality rate, the results for the neonatal mortality rate are expressed per 1 000 live births.

Figure 2 shows that infant mortality rates fell across the ENP-East countries during the period 2009-2019 (or to the most recent year available). The largest reduction was recorded in Georgia where the infant mortality rate fell from 14.9 per 1 000 live births in 2009, the highest among the ENP-East countries that year, to 7.9 per 1 000 live births in 2019, a drop by 7.0 percentage points.C The smallest fall was in Azerbaijan, where the infant mortality rate fell slightly by 0.4 points to 11.0 per 1 000 live births in 2019, the highest level among this group of countries. Belarus was the only ENP-East country to record an infant mortality rate that was lower than that of the EU, at 2.5 per 1 000 live births in 2018 (2019 data not available). For comparison, the EU infant mortality rate fell from 4.2 per 1 000 live births in 2009 to 3.4 per 1 000 live births in 2019.

Figure 2: Infant mortality rate, 2009-2019
(per thousand live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind)

Data for neonatal mortality rates following SDG indicator 3.2.2 is presented in Figure 3. This statistic is not available for the EU as a whole, as data for some Member States are not available; instead, the figure shows data for the individual EU Member States with the highest and lowest rates in 2019.

As with the data for infant mortality rates, EU Member States and the ENP-East countries generally reported a fall in their neonatal mortality rates over the period 2009 to 2019. Exceptions were Luxembourg, where the rate is quite volatile due to its small population size, and Azerbaijan. Among the ENP-East countries, the fall was most notable in Georgia, down 6.6 percentage points from 11.8 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2009 to 5.2 deaths per 1 000 live births by 2019. This was still the second highest among the ENP-East countries in 2019, only lower than the rate in Azerbaijan with 6.9. The third highest rate was reported by Armenia (2018 data) with 5.0, followed by Ukraine with 4.6 neonatal deaths per 1 000 live births. Belarus had by far the lowest neonatal mortality rate among these countries in 2019, with 1.1; 2019 data are not available for Moldova.

All of the ENP-East countries and EU Member States that are shown in Figure 3 had neonatal mortality rates that were well below the UN target for Indicator 3.2.2, a rate of no more than 12 deaths per 1 000 live births.

Figure 3: Neonatal mortality rate, 2009 and 2019
(per thousand live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind)

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

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SDG 7 seeks to ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’. One associated SDG target is 7.2: ‘by 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix’. This is considered in Figure 5 below.

SDG Target 7.3 aims to ‘by 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency’. SDG indicator 7.3.1 examines progress on Target 7.3 by measuring energy intensity in terms of primary energy and GDP.

The level of energy intensity in a country can be affected by factors such as climate or economic structure, as well as by energy efficiency measures. Over time, a change in the mix of economic activities can also affect energy intensity. Taking these issues into account, reduction in energy intensity is used as a proxy for increased energy efficiency. Energy intensity is defined as the gross inland consumption of energy in relation to constant price gross domestic product (GDP). The indicator therefore measures the energy supplied to the economy per unit of economic output. If the ratio declines in a country over time, this indicates that less energy is required and so the economy has improved its energy efficiency. Energy intensity is here measured in kilogrammes (kg) of oil equivalent per EUR 1 000 GDP in volume terms, measured at the reference year 2010.

Figure 4 shows energy intensity for the reporting ENP-East countries: data are available for Azerbaijan for 2009-2019 and for Armenia for a relatively short time series. In Azerbaijan in 2019, energy intensity was 376 kg oil equivalent / EUR 1 000 GDP. This was higher than in 2009, when the measure of energy intensity was 342 kg oil equivalent / EUR 1 000 GDP. This corresponded to an increase in energy intensity by 10 %. The level of hydrocarbon production might affect these figures, as this sector dominates the economy in Azerbaijan.

In Armenia, energy intensity fell 15 % between 2015 and 2018, from 360 to 305 kg oil equivalent / EUR 1 000 GDP.

In the EU, energy intensity decreased fairly steadily over the period 2009-2019, from 144 to 119 kg oil equivalent / EUR 1 000 GDP, suggesting that the economy was becoming more energy efficient. The improvement was close to 17 %.

Figure 4: Energy intensity of the economy, 2009-2019
(kg of oil equivalent per EUR thousand GDP in volumes (2010 reference year))
Source: Eurostat (nrg_ind_ei) and the annual data collection cycle – see the chapter Data sources towards the end of the article.

SDG indicator 7.2.1 measures the share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption. This aims to measure SDG Target 7.2: by 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Figure 5 accordingly measures the share of energy from renewable sources over the period 2009-2019 as a percentage of gross final energy consumption. In 2019, the highest share of renewable energy among the ENP-East countries was recorded in Georgia with 24.9 % of the total energy consumption. The second highest share was recorded by Moldova with 23.2 %. The shares of both countries were higher than that of the EU (19.7 %). However, the shares of renewable energy tend to fluctuate over time, also reflecting the climate in any single year and the amount of wind, sun and rainfall available. In Armenia, the share of renewable energy in final consumption was 11.1 % (2018), in Belarus 7.1 % and in Azerbaijan only 1.6 %. This low rate in Azerbaijan may reflect the importance of the hydrocarbons sector in the country.

This data needs to be viewed in the context of the ENP-East countries’ energy sectors, which is the subject of the dedicated Statistics Explained article on Energy statistics of the ENP-countries.

Figure 5: Energy from renewable sources, 2009-2019
(% share of gross final energy consumption)
Source: Eurostat (nrg_ind_ren) and the annual data collection cycle – see the chapter Data sources towards the end of the article.

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

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SDG 8 aims to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’.

Target 8.2: Productivity

Associated Target 8.2 promotes ‘Higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high value added and labour-intensive sectors’. Indicator 8.2.1 examines progress on this target as ‘Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person’, a measure of productivity growth.

GDP per person employed grew over the period 2009-2019 (or as available) in all ENP-East countries. Georgia and Armenia reported higher annual rates of change for labour productivity over the whole period, with annual average gains of 3.6 % and 3.5 % (2009-2018), respectively. For Armenia, this was despite a major decline (-11.9 %) in productivity in 2009. Over the more recent period, productivity growth was faster than in earlier years: an annual average of 4.2 % over 2015-2019 in Georgia and 6.1 % over 2014-2018 in Armenia.

Looking over the whole time period, Belarus and Moldova (2010-2018) both made average annual gains in labour productivity of 2.3 %. In the last five years recorded, both countries’ productivity gains slowed: to 1.1 % in Belarus over 2015-2019 and 2.0 % in Moldova over 2014-2018.

There were only small overall increases in productivity in Ukraine and Azerbaijan over 2009-2019. In Ukraine, the period started with a large fall during the financial and economic crisis; the average annual change was 0.6 % over 2009-2019 and 2.0 % over 2015-2019. For Azerbaijan, productivity changes were an annual average of 1.0 % over 2009-2019 but a fall of -1.0 % over 2015-2019, presumably a consequence of world oil production falls.

GDP per person employed rose by an average of 0.8 % in the EU over 2009-2019 and 2.0 % in the period 2015-2019.

Figure 6: Labour productivity in GDP (constant prices) per person employed, 2009-2019
(annual rate of change, %)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_lp_ulc), (nama_10_pe) and (enpe_nama_10_lp)

Target 8.5: Employment and equal pay

SDG Target 8.5 concerns ‘achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value by 2030’. These developments are monitored though Indicator 8.5.2: unemployment rates by sex and age and for persons with disabilities.

The unemployment rate is defined as the share of unemployed persons in the labour force. The data for the EU Member States and for the ENP-East countries on unemployment mainly conform to internationally agreed definitions, based on the methodology of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Figure 7 shows unemployment by sex for 2009 and 2019.

Although unemployment in Armenia declined slightly from 2009 to 2019, it remained at a high level. Female unemployment has fallen slightly faster than male, at 19.3 % remaining higher than male (17.5 %) and the highest female among the ENP-East countries. Azerbaijan also recorded a slight fall in the unemployment rate between 2009 and 2019, affecting both men and women equally (-0.9 percentage points); female unemployment (5.7 %) remains higher than male (4.0 %). The unemployment rate in Georgia fell considerably from 2009 to 2019 (-6.7 percentage points) but nevertheless remained high. Female and male unemployment declined almost equally strongly, so male unemployment (12.8 %) remained higher (female: 10.1 %). Similarly, in Moldova unemployment was lower in 2019 than in 2009, although the data are not strictly comparable since there is a break in the time series. Male unemployment fell more strongly (-2.0 percentage points to 5.8 %) than female (-0.5 points to 4.4 %) over this time period, although it remains higher.

Ukraine’s unemployment changed somewhat from 2009 to 2019, although the data definition had been altered in the interim. Male unemployment fell during this period (-1.8 percentage points), while female unemployment rose slightly (+0.6 percentage points). Unemployment in Belarus was higher in 2019 than in 2009, and male unemployment rose more than female, although the country’s data from 2009-2015 are not directly comparable; they are based upon registered unemployment, whereas data since 2016 are based on a survey. This accounts for the very low levels recorded in 2009.

EU unemployment rates stood at 6.4 % for men and at 7.0 % for women in 2019. Contrary to the situation in the EU, where the female unemployment rate was higher, in four of the ENP-East countries the unemployment rate for women was lower than the rate for men, the exceptions being Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Figure 7: Unemployment rate by sex, 2009 and 2019
(% of persons aged 15-74)
Source: Eurostat (une_rt_a) and (enpe_lfsa_urgan)

SDG indicator 8.5.2 also entails an analysis of unemployment rates by age: policymakers tend to focus their attention on both ends of working life, analysing employment opportunities for the young and the retention of older members of the workforce up to and beyond any official retirement age.

As shown in Figure 8, all of the ENP-East countries reporting showed lower youth unemployment rate in 2019 than in 2009, with the exception of Belarus where data are only available from 2016 onwards. The fall was considerable in Georgia and Armenia (-10.3 and -8.3 percentage points, respectively). However, with a rate of 32.6 %, Armenia still had the highest youth employment among the ENP-East countries in 2019; Armenia also had the highest rate ten years before, with 40.9 %. Georgia with 30.4 % remained the country with the second highest youth unemployment rate. While definitions differ between ENP countries, youth unemployment appears to be considerably higher in Armenia and Georgia both in 2009 and 2019 than in the other ENP-East countries; in 2019, their youth unemployment was around twice that of the country with the third highest rate, Ukraine (15.4 %). In this context, it should be noted that definitional changes occurred in Armenia and Moldova in the period concerned.

The unemployed made up 15.0 % of all young people aged 15-24 years who were economically active, so either employed or unemployed, in the EU in 2019; this marked a reduction of 9.4 percentage points in comparison with the peak of 24.4 % recorded in 2013.

Figure 8: Youth unemployment rate, 2009-2019
(% of persons aged 15-24 years)
Source: Eurostat (une_rt_a) and (enpe_lfsa_urgan)

Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development

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SDG 17 has the goal of ‘strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development’. In recent decades, the internet has become an increasingly important tool for providing access to information: it can help foster access to and share knowledge of science, culture, technology and innovation. As part of this, Target 17.6 aims to ‘enhance north-south, south-south and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge-sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism’. The means of monitoring progress within this domain is provided by Indicator 17.6.1: the number of fixed internet broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

Figure 9 shows the progressive adoption of fixed broadband services in the ENP-East countries. These started from lower levels than in the EU and rose at a much faster pace over the period 2009 to 2019. In Belarus, the ratio of subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increased from 11.6 to 34.0 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, a level similar to that of the EU, while in Georgia the increase was from 3.6 to 23.6. In Azerbaijan the ratio increased sixteenfold from 1.1 to 19.3 per 100 inhabitants. In Moldova penetration rose from 4.6 to 16.6 per 100 inhabitants, in Ukraine it was up from 4.1 to 16.2. The ratio in Armenia increased more than eightfold from 1.4 to 13.0 over this period.

The number of fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the EU increased from 24.2 in 2009 to 35.5 in 2019.

Figure 9: Fixed broadband subscriptions, 2009, 2014 and 2019
(number per hundred inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind) and the International Telecommunication Union

Data sources

The data presented in this article for ENP-East countries are supplied by and under the responsibility of the national statistical authorities of each country on a voluntary basis. The data result from an annual data collection cycle that has been established by Eurostat. These statistics are available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a range of additional indicators for ENP-East countries covering most socio-economic topics.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value;
not applicable.


Sustainable development is a global concern that is linked to a wide range of economic, social and environmental challenges present within the world. However, sustainable development also provides opportunities, such as the potential to eliminate extreme poverty or measures that are designed to stimulate a sustainable path to economic growth.

In September 2015, the UN adopted a new agenda titled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’. This is a long-term policy framework designed to bring about a systemic change in the way that economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection go hand in hand. It addresses both poverty eradication and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, underpinned by good governance.

The agenda covers a set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) — each designed to address a range of global challenges:

  1. no poverty;
  2. zero hunger;
  3. good health and well-being;
  4. quality education;
  5. gender equality;
  6. clean water and sanitation;
  7. affordable and clean energy;
  8. decent work and economic growth;
  9. industry, innovation and infrastructure;
  10. reduced inequalities;
  11. sustainable cities and communities;
  12. responsible consumption and production;
  13. climate action;
  14. life below water;
  15. life on land;
  16. peace, justice and strong institutions;
  17. partnerships for the goals.

In March 2016, the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) agreed on a global list of 241 SDG indicators as a practical starting point to monitor the 17 SDGs and 169 targets at a global level (of these, nine indicators are repeated for different targets). The SDG indicators framework is refined annually, while a comprehensive review by the UN Statistical Commission will take place in 2025; in March 2020, it approved a list of 231 indicators, 12 of which are repeated for different targets. For more information on work being conducted in this area and the approach adopted by UN for the development of SDG indicators, please refer to UN’s SDG indicators website. The UN releases quarterly updates of its global database for SDG indicators; it is available online.

Sustainable development is a fundamental and overarching objective of the EU. Indeed, it is enshrined in Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union. The EU has committed to implementing the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development, both in its internal and external policies. In November 2016, the European Commission made a proposal for a new European consensus on development — our world, our dignity, our future (COM(2016) 740 final) which highlighted the possibilities available for developing a new framework for achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. This proposal states that the 2030 agenda should be used to guide EU actions with neighbouring countries, including those covered by the revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Furthermore, the Communication also proposes that the EU should seek to boost the statistical capacity of developing countries, including: strengthened capacity for the production and analysis of data (disaggregated where possible by income, gender, age and other factors); information on marginalised, vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups; inclusive governance; investment in stronger statistical institutions at national and regional level; the promotion and use of new technologies and data sources.

In November 2016, the European Commission also adopted a Communication titled Next steps for a sustainable European future — European action for sustainability (COM(2016) 739 final), identifying that the EU’s global strategy on foreign and security policy had clear links with the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development, whereby links and benefits for the EU could be achieved by promoting security and prosperity in surrounding regions, including enlargement and ENP countries. Furthermore, the Communication foresees the development of an SDG indicator framework, whereby the European Commission will ‘seek to carry out more detailed regular monitoring of the SDGs in an EU context’ which should draw on work already being carried out by the European Commission and its agencies, as well as the European External Action Service.

These policies are, in 2021, under review through the European Semester process. As the statistical office of the EU, Eurostat may consider that there are a number of UN indicators which lie outside the scope of official statistics, for example, indicators on governance. Furthermore, in developed economies, some of the indicators from the UN indicator list for monitoring SDGs may be considered as being of little or no relevance, as they refer to issues that are more pertinent for analysing developing countries. Examples include indicators measuring the share of the population that is living within close proximity of a paved road or the availability of modern methods for family planning.

With this in mind, and following the Communication on European action for sustainability, European Commission services have developed an EU-specific indicator list, designed to measure progress in relation to sustainable development issues. The EU’s monitoring framework for SDGs is based largely on data that are already available for the EU Member States (the ‘acquis’); this divergence in approach to that adopted by the UN reflects the considerable differences in economic, social and environmental developments across the different continents, regions and countries of the world and the degree of relevance for some UN indicators with respect to measuring progress on sustainable development issues in the EU.

For more information on work already conducted in this area and the approach adopted by Eurostat, please refer to Eurostat’s website.

European Neighbourhood Policy

In March 2020, the European Commission presented a joint policy proposal for Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020: Reinforcing Resilience - an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all. This is intended to succeed the 2015 review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (SWD(2015) 500 final).

In cooperation with its ENP partners, Eurostat has the responsibility ‘to promote and implement the use of European and internationally recognised standards and methodology for the production of statistics necessary for developing and monitoring policy achievements in all policy areas’. Eurostat undertakes the task of coordinating EU efforts to increase the statistical capacity of the ENP countries. Additional information on the policy context of the ENP is provided here.

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