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Regional Social Scoreboard: New research shows over 80% of EU regions making progress but regional inequalities persist  
​​CoR President Lambertz: "The EU must put social progress and regional investment at the heart of its agenda" 
Measuring social progress at regional level is crucial to ensure that European, national and regional investments support the EU's social objectives. This is why the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) produced the first ever Regional Social Scoreboard , showing most EU regions have made progress between 2014-2018, though there are significant regional differences found in the EU.


Since 2018, the European Commission has been monitoring social progress across the Member States using a Social Scoreboard covering 12 policy areas including unemployment, education, childcare, healthcare and digital skills. However, the CoR – EU's assembly of local and regional leaders – raised concern that the Commission's Scoreboard only provides data at the national level. Using Eurostat data, it subsequently launched the Regional Social Scoreboard to measure social progress in the EU's regions.

According to the Regional Social Scoreboard , the overall trend between 2014 and 2018 is positive: over 80% of EU regions have made improvement on social progress. At the same time, considerable differences exist within individual Member States, for instance between Italy's northern and southern regions, a trend also observed in the Regional Innovation Scoreboard published earlier this year by the European Commission.

Karl Heinz Lambertz , President of the European Committee of the Regions, said:

"Europe's success must not only be defined by economic progress, but also social progress. By understanding the situation in our regions, EU policies and investments can be more effective in tackling regional gaps and ensure no citizen is left behind. There has been progress, yet today's report highlights that the EU must put tackling social inequalities and promoting territorial cohesion at the heart of its agenda. This research is just the start and we call on the European Commission to build on our efforts and incorporate the regional dimension in its policies including its Social Scoreboard. Regions and cities are ready to build a sustainable Europe but they need investment which is why we need flexibility in the stability and growth pact, as well as a strong cohesion policy and European Social Fund in the next EU budget"

Key findings:

The available Eurostat data allows covering 8 of the 12 policy areas of the European Commission's Social Scoreboard at regional ( NUTS 2 ) level with some adjustments. From this basis, the CoR has created a Regional Social Scoreboard that leads to the following conclusions:

- Early leavers from education and training: Prague leads the way. While the early dropout rate from education in the EU has fallen since 2010 from 13.9% to 10.6% in 2018, the regional data reveals significant disparities between regions: for example, the Czech Republic has an average of 6.2%, but that number fluctuates between 2.7% in Prague to 17.1 % in Northwest. Similarly, in Spain the national average is 21.5% but that number varies from 6.9% in Basque Country to 29.5 % in Melilla.

- Gender gap: n o region where more women work than men. In 2018 there were no region in the EU where women's employment rate exceeded that of men's. The regions that saw the largest improvement in reducing the gender employment gap between 2014 and 2018 were Övre Norrland in Sweden (from 2.2% points in 2014 to 0.5% in 2018, corresponding to a 77.27% decrease in the gap), Haute-Normandie in France (63.83% decrease) and Brandenburg in Germany (62.22% decrease).

- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion: huge disparities in Italy. Though there is no accurate data available for all EU regions, there was an overall improvement though regional disparities still exist: in Italy, social exclusion in Bolzano was 8.5% in comparison to Sicily which stood at 52.1%.

- Young people neither in employment nor in training or education (NEETs): increases in the UK. Significant disparities exist between regions, with Dutch regions having the lowest percentages (Utrecht, 3.2%). While the highest for 2018 is found in Guyane, France ( 33.1%), followed by regions in Southern Italy (Sicily 31.5 %), the regions that witnessed the biggest rise in their NEET rates are primarily located in the United Kingdom (for example, North Eastern Scotland from 7.7% to 12%).

- Employment rate: top performers in Scandinavia. Huge disparities exist (from 40.8% in Mayotte, France, to 85.7% in Stockholm, Sweden). Regions in Southern Italy and overseas regions of France have the lowest levels of employment, Scandinavian regions the highest. Spanish and Hungarian regions showed the highest increases in the last four years.

- Unemployment rate: Greece still recovering from the crisis. With a handful of exceptions, all European regions have improved in the last four years, with the largest improvements being evident in regions in Eastern and non-euro area countries. Greek and Spanish regions have the highest unemployment rates in continental Europe (Western Macedonia peaking at 27%), German and Czech regions the lowest.

- Long-term unemployment: major regional disparities whilst Poland shows biggest improvement. Huge disparities in the levels of long-term unemployment (0.3% low to 28.7% high). Regions in Greece are the weakest performers, areas in the Czech Republic, Poland and the United Kingdom the strongest. Polish regions have shown the biggest improvement in the last four years.

- Life expectancy at birth: Spanish and Italian regions lead the ranking. This indicator is the only one in the field of healthcare for which regional data is available. Life expectancy is highest in Spanish and Italian regions (reaching 85.1 years in the Community of Madrid), whereas Bulgarian regions have the lowest life expectancy (73.5 in North-western Bulgaria).

The report classifies the 281 NUTS 2 regions in four categories, measuring their progress between 2014 and 2018 (it covers seven of the above mentioned 8 indicators, excluding "people at risk of poverty or social exclusion" due to the fragmentation of data):

  • Strongly improving regions in which 7 indicators over these years have been positive (38 regions; 7 of them in the UK, 5 in Italy, 4 in the Netherlands, 3 in Germany, Poland and Spain each)
  • Moderately improving regions in which between 5 and 6 indicators are positive (188 regions)
  • Stagnating regions in which 3-4 indicators are positive (47 regions)
  • Declining regions in which only 1-2 indicators are positive (5 regions, among them Aquitaine and Mayotte in France, Gießen in Germany and North Eastern Scotland in UK).


Lauri Ouvinen 
Tel. +32 22822063

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