Major and chronic diseases


The leading causes of death in the EU are:

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • cancer
  • respiratory diseases

These diseases are often preventable – which means reliable data on causes of death can improve health policies, promote good health and reduce health inequalities.

The Commission's role is to provide policymakers and the public with useful tools to monitor mortality statistics.


Cause of death information is taken from the World Health Organization (WHO) death certificate. Eurostat collects the national and regional data and uses the WHO's International Classification of Diseases (ICD) to publish related statistics.

Data from Eurostat

The Commission Regulation (EU) No 328/2011 on causes of death statistics defines how Eurostat collects data on causes of death. In 2012, Eurostat revised the 'European Shortlist' and provides data for 86 causes of death selected from the ICD. Besides the absolute numbers or crude death rate (CDR) on causes of death, Eurostat publishes:

  • data on the standardised death rate (SDR), based on 2012 European Standard population, to improve comparability over time and between countries
  • regional mortality data in the full Atlas on mortality in the EU or partial yearly updates from the Statistical Atlas – Eurostat regional yearbook
  • data on causes of death

EU funding for better analysis

Commission-funded projects to improve analysis of causes of death aim to:

  • automated data collection
  • produce indicators that will standardise mortality data at EU level and detect health inequalities