Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Structural indicators

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

This summary is archived.
Languages and formats available
HTML html ES html DE html EN html FR
Multilingual display
Miscellaneous information
  • Archived: true

Structural indicators

The European Commission has drawn up a new statistical methodology with a list of 14 structural indicators which evaluate implementation of the Lisbon strategy in the context of the Spring report. A specific database is available online and is accessible to the public free of charge.


Communication from the Commission of 8 October 2003. Structural indicators [See amending acts].


In March 2000, the Lisbon European Council invited the European Commission to present an annual report on progress achieved in the areas of employment, innovation, economic reform, social cohesion and the environment. Structural indicators allow quantative evaluation and comparison of performances of the Member States in these areas.

These structural indicators are extremely useful. They give an essential statistical foundation to political messages. Member States use them for their national reports. This sort of information is very often requested by the public.

With regard to structural indicators, the European Commission:

  • has drawn up a shortlist of 14 indicators;
  • has put a complete online database at the public's disposal;
  • wants to improve existing indicators and finalise new ones.

A shortlist of 14 structural indicators

The number of structural indicators has risen greatly in the last three years, to as many as 42 in 2003. The Commission would like to reduce this number to 14 in order to facilitate communication of its policy messages at the Spring European Council. The list of the 14 indicators, as amended by the Council, is as follows:

Structural Indicators


Overall policy objective

Country coverage

Per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Per capita GDP in Purchasing Power Standard (PPS).EU15 = 100

Standard of living.Social and environmental welfare.

15 Member States (MS) + 12 acceding or candidate countries (ACC) + United States, Japan, Iceland, Norway.

Labour productivity.

Work productivity per person employed GDP in PPS per person employed.EU15=100

Overall efficiency of the economy.


Employment rate.

Employed persons aged 15-64 as a percentage of the total population of the same age group.

Full employment.Combating social exclusion.

15 MS + 12 ACC + Iceland, Norway.

Employment rate of older workers.

Employed persons aged 55-64 as a percentage of the total population of the same age group.

Full employment.Combating social exclusion.


Education level of young people (aged 20-24).

Percentage of young people aged 20-24 having reached at least higher secondary education or training, expressed as a percentage of the total population of the same age group.

National education systems performance.

15 MS + 12 ACC

Research and technological development (R&TD).

Gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) as a percentage of GDP.

R&D effort.

15 MS + 12 ACC (except Malta) + United States, Japan, Iceland, Norway.

Comparative price levels.

Ratio between purchasing power parities (PPP) and market exchange rates for each country.

Price convergence.


Business investment.

Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) in the private sector as a percentage of GDP.

Business confidence in the economic situation.

15 MS + Norway.

At-risk-of-poverty rate after social transfers.

Percentage of persons with an equivalised disposable income below the risk-of-poverty threshold after social transfers.The threshold is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

Combating poverty and social exclusion.

15 MS + 12 ACC

Dispersion of regional employment rates.

Coefficient of variation of employment rates across regions (NUTS 2 level) within countries.

Economic and social cohesion

15 MS (except Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg) + Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, |Romania, Slovakia.

Long term unemployment.

Total long-term unemployed (over 12 months) as a percentage of the total active population aged 15-64.

Full employment.Combating social exclusion.

15 MS + 12 ACC + United States, Japan, Iceland, Norway.

Greenhouse gases emissions.

Percentage change in aggregated emissions of 6 main greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6) expressed in CO2-equivalents. The base year for the Kyoto Protocol objectives and the Decision of the EU Council Decision is 2008-2012. Index base year = 100

Climate change and implementation of Kyoto Protocol.

15 MS + 12 ACC + United States, Japan, Iceland, Norway.

Energy intensity of the economy.

Gross domestic consumption of energy divided by GDP (at constant prices, 1995 = 100).

More efficient energy use.

15 MS + 12 ACC + United States, Japan, Iceland, Norway.

Freight transport volume.

Index of freight transport volume relative to GDP. Measured in tonne-km/GDP and indexed on 1995.

Decouple transport development from economic growth.

15 MS + 12 ACC (except Malta) + United States, Japan, Iceland, Norway.

These structural indicators have several advantages. As they are generally available for an EU of 25, these indicators make it possible to present a clear annual picture of the Member States. The list of indicators is updated every three years in order to guarantee a certain stability over time. But the database is regularly updated.

A publicly-accessible online database and website

The 14 structural indicators and the extended database are accessible online, free of charge. When drawing up the Spring report, the Commission will use this statistical information to support its key findings and policy directions. The database also serves to establish other Commission reports, such as the Broad Guidelines for Economic Policy (BGEP), the European employment policy guidelines and the internal market strategy.

Constant improvement of indicators

The Commission and the European statistical system are working together to improve the indicators. This collaboration made it possible both to extend country coverage to the acceding countries and candidate countries, and to refine time series and the quality of data and indicators.

The decision to include indicators or remove them will be based on technical criteria, taking policy relevance into account. In order to offer a more coherent analysis, the focus can be placed on stability. The most recent additions to the database concern unemployment traps, business demography and e-commerce.

The Commission has established a list of indicators to be developed.




General economic background.

Potential output.


Total factor productivity.




Indicates bottlenecks and labour shortages.

Quality of work.

Develop indicators other than 'life-long learning' and 'accidents at work'.

Marginal effective tax rate.

Unemployment trap indicator.

Childcare facilities.

The Barcelona European Council set the target of increasing capacity in all Member States.

Innovation and research.

Composite indicators on the knowledge-based economy.

This concerns investments in the knowledge-based economy.

Public and private expenditure on human capital.

Improve specific time series.

Online public services (e-government).

Update currently available data. Calculate the average percentage of public services available on-line between October 2001 and April 2002.

IT expenditure.

Build a coherent framework to measure expenditure, define variables and identify the means for collecting the data.

Broadband internet access.

Under development. This is one of the aims of the eEurope 2005 action plan.

Economic reform

Business demography.

Harmonising existing data on business 'birth rates', 'survival rates' and 'deaths'.

Cost of capital and financial integration.

Evaluate market efficiency, mergers and acquisitions and financial stability indicators.

Social cohesion

Regional GDP per capita.

Improve the development of regional price indices.


Consumption of toxic chemicals.

Currently being prepared. Evaluate the risk linked to the use of these chemicals in society. This is linked to the Reach authorisation system.

Health expectancies.

Collection of data will begin in 2004 for the MS and in 2005 for the ACCs.

Biodiversity index.

Currently being prepared. These are linked to the Community Biodiversity Action Plans (BIO-IMPS projects).

Resource productivity.

Data already available for certain resources such as electricity generation. A study is currently being carried out on indicators which evaluate the Integrated product policy.

Recycling rate of selected materials.

Harmonise this rate through the recent adoption of specific rules on recycling.

Generation of hazardous waste.




Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

COM(2003) 585 final



Not published in the OJ

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Brussels European Council conclusions of 8 December 2003



Not published in the OJ


Communication from the Commission - Structural Indicators [COM(2002) 551 final].

Communication from the Commission - Structural Indicators [COM(2001) 619 final].

Communication from the Commission - Structural Indicators [COM(2000) 594 final].

Last updated: 24.10.2005