5 ways the EU’s sustainability statistics fall flat

Data specialists at the EU’s statistics’ hub recently published results on how well governments are doing when it comes to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But a group of NGOs has disputed the numbers’ accuracy.

Campaigners from SDG Watch Europe have described a new Eurostat report as painting a misleading picture of how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being implemented across the EU. They also say that the report does not address the 17 goals’ underlying aim of transforming the world by 2030.

The European Union signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 at a special UN meeting in New York.

According to SDG Watch Europe, the 5 main failings of the report are:

  1. Stuck in the present
    The report falls short of addressing all dimensions of sustainable development and focuses on measuring existing solutions rather than capturing what is needed to make the 2030 agenda a reality.
  2. A skewed picture
    Key societal, environmental, economic and technological trends are subordinated to the Commission’s current priorities through the choice of indicator and the report paints a skewed picture of the EU’s performance.
  3. Time to speed up!
    The methodology does not show how far and how fast we need to move in order for the EU to reach the SDGs by 2030: the report does not take into account the level of achievement. Moreover, 1% of change per year already gets the thumbs up from the report despite the fact that such slow progress means the EU will fail to reach the targets by 2030.
  4. Get global
    The report does not measure the EU’s impact on sustainable development globally: it is neither able to illustrate whether European efforts in development cooperation are able to reduce poverty and inequality, nor whether the EU is able to reduce its negative impact on the rest of the world due to over-consumption, resource depletion, a large ecological footprint as well as negligence of human rights and exploitation of cheap labour – one of the biggest SDG challenges of the EU.
  5. Inequality overlooked
    The report misses critical data to address the 2030 Agenda principle of ‘leave no one left behind’ and is weak in measuring how inequalities within the EU are reduced.


SDG Watch Europe calls for an overhaul of the EUROSTAT methodology.
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