This crisis cannot be confronted with statistics

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration, on the right, presenting to the employees of the Eurostat of the EC the "special mention" of the 2013 Green Commission (EMAS) Award, awarded to ESTAT. (EC Audiovisual Services, 24/09/2013).

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration, on the right, presenting to the employees of the Eurostat of the EC the “special mention” of the 2013 Green Commission (EMAS) Award, awarded to ESTAT. (EC Audiovisual Services, 24/09/2013).

Eurostat, the statistical service of the European Union, announced yesterday the launch of a new series of annual publications, entitled “Smarter, greener, more inclusive? – Indicators to support the Europe 2020 strategy”. According to the relevant Press release, “The purpose of this publication is to provide statistics to support the Europe 2020 strategy and to back up the monitoring towards its headline targets”.

Going through the first publication, one is tempted to answer the above questions like that; More inclusive? Certainly not; Smarter? Who knows; Greener? Probably, but at what cost. Unfortunately, if statistics were enough to fight unemployment and fuel inclusive growth, statisticians would have been in much greater demand. Now, they simply insist that they tell the truth. But yet, who believes them? By the way, the statistician’s oath is about percentages of truth, in percentages of cases, in percentages of the questions asked, in percentages…percentages…so at the end there is almost nothing left from the solid hundred (100%).

It’s just ambitions

Now, let’s return to the Europe 2020 ambitious growth strategy for the next decade. In order to shape its future, the Union has set five objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy – to be reached by 2020. In theory, each member state has adopted its own national targets in all these five immense policy areas. The EU insists that “Concrete actions at EU and national levels underpin the strategy”. But again this assertion is just words, without any concrete short-term measures or policy strategies supporting them. As the Romans rightly observed, ‘Verba volant, scripta manent’ – targets being left with no supportive legislation. Let’s see if this is so.

Starting from the most important target, the one to achieve a total employment rate of 75% in the year 2020, the data released by Eurostat prove it to be a mid-autumn dream. This was expected because there is no concrete strategy written down, describing in details the means to achieve it. The reality of the cruel austere policies applied all over the EU, stands as an infallible proof that this is just another Brussels illusion. Even countries like Germany insist on a miser economic strategy for years, despite the fact that this high-flying economy could now support a relaxation of restrictions imposed on government spending and workers’ take home pay. Yet, this country denies helping itself to achieve a strong growth path and also leaves everybody else lost in a sea of uncertainty and distress.

Turning to core data, describing the developments in the socially sensitive fronts of employment and social inclusion, the EU’s performance on the road to the brave year of 2020 are a source of deep chagrin. Between 2009 and 2012 unemployment, poverty and social exclusion grew unimpeded all over the Union. Even in Germany the threat of poverty engulfed almost 17% of population in 2012 from 12% in 2009.

A nightmare for many

In detail, average total employment in the entire EU fell slightly between 2009 and 2012 from 69% to 68.5%. Understandably, the Commission’s strategy had predicted an increase, but in vain. In any case, this unimportant looking decrease, just half a percentage unit, accounts for 1.75 million people. Yet, this is only a part of the truth.
Averaging is a statistical method to hide reality. Despite this small average decrease of employment all over the Union, unemployment has reached the sky in the south of Eurozone. As for poverty and social exclusion, its toll increased from 113.8 million in 2009 to 119.8 million of people in 2012. The ambitious target of the ‘Europe 2020 strategy’ is 95.7 million. Evidently, reality is 24.1 million people away from targets, and things get worse, not better.

Given that prospects are not at all rosy for the next few years, the impossibility to achieve the target is obvious. If the ‘raison d’être’ of the economy is to serve people, the conclusion is that the European Union is a complete failure. Yet Eurostat’s announcement didn’t cause a huge wave of reactions from our political leadership and the EU institutions. On the contrary, it was greeted even with gratification over the…effectiveness of EU policies.

What about the good developments

Let’s now confront developments in ‘research & development’, ‘climate change & energy’ and ‘education’. In all those fronts EU averages appear to have evolved positively during the past few years. However the increase in R&D spending is tortuously slow from 2.01% of GDP in 2009 to 2.03% in 2011, against a target of 3% for 2020.

Passing to the progress of the ‘Share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption’, it is evident that it advances with a strong pace. However, there is a vivid debate going on, about the means and the policies which were used to achieve this impressive progress of renewable energy production. Incentives, in the form of government handouts are so large to ‘investments’, that the Greek and the German countryside are today dotted with windmills and solar panels.

However, out of proportion subsidies on solar and wind generated electricity, have been quite distortive of energy markets. The burden on consumers has become so large that practically all member states are now changing course and rethinking the whole affair. It’s more than certain that the party is over for the renewables. The weight is so large on the economy that during the next few years it is sure that there will be a deceleration in electricity production from sun and wind. In short, in the only front that there has been a marked progress, the means and the policies used may have caused more damage than good. As for the marked betterment of education statistics during the past few years, this has nothing to do with the Commission and the EU. This is a deeply social and family matter that Brussels can do very little about it.

In conclusion, planning for the future is not bad, but turning a blind eye to the present is catastrophic. The crisis which still takes its toll is in much more urgent need of effective policies than statistics.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Guterres calls for restraint in Venezuela, Jazz Day, the importance of breastfeeding, and updates from Libya, Iran and Mozambique

EU-India summit: Will the EU manage to sign a free trade agreement with India before Britain?

How blockchain is addressing key problem patterns in the financial services sector

This billion-dollar campaign wants to protect 30% of the planet by 2030

You might soon be travelling without a passport – this is how

This is what great leadership looks like in the digital age

Commission presents ways to further strengthen the euro’s global role

War in Syria: ‘Carnage’, flouting of rights and international law, must stop: Guterres

“China will strive to enhance the performance of economic growth”, President Xi highlights from the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos

The future of work ‘with social justice for all’ tops agenda of centenary UN Labour conference

Want to shop more sustainably and recycle better? This app could help

Austrian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

How the world can gear up for the fight against cancer

The European Parliament wants to stay in one place

The new general election will secure Greece’s position in Eurozone; at least for some time

India’s Largest Entrepreneurship Event is Back! (23-24th August 2016)

Can Argentina’s new president save the country’s economy?

Access to healthcare is not enough – high quality care has to be the target

Is Britain to sail alone in the high seas of trade wars?

Europe’s poor investment in digital is threatening prosperity. Here’s what its start-ups need

Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain receive €279m after natural disasters in 2019

Autumn 2019 Standard Eurobarometer: immigration and climate change remain main concerns at EU level

5 things fighting malaria can teach us about Universal Health Coverage

Our present and future tax payments usurped by banks

Mental health in the context of a pandemic: social distance

Mine action is at ‘the nexus’ of peace, security and development: UN official

5 of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases

Time to make a fundamental choice about the future of healthcare

Why Renewable Energy is an attractive investment

How to future-proof India’s economy

France and Poland to block David Cameron’s plans on immigration

How video games can reunite a divided world

Job automation risks vary widely across different regions within countries

Turkey remains numb while its economy is expected to shrink further due to a cocktail of EU and US sanctions

Parliament adopts major reform of road transport sector

The economic cost of anti-vaccination movements in Italy

We now know how much ice Antarctica has lost in the last 25 years – three trillion tonnes

Caspian Sea deal an invaluable step towards easing regional tensions, says UN Chief

The job description for a COVID-19 community health worker – and how this could fight US unemployment

Natural gas: Parliament extends EU rules to pipelines from non-EU countries

EU and China discuss economic and trade relations at the 7th High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue

INTERVIEW: Poverty, education and inclusion top new General Assembly President’s priority list

AI is transforming cybercrime. Here’s how we can fight back

Entrepreneurship and strategic planning: the enabler

Brexit update: Will Theresa May’s last-minute desperate efforts procrastinate Brexit?

Crisis hit countries cut down public spending on education

Guterres condemns killing of Bangladeshi peacekeeper in South Sudan, during armed attack on UN convoy

Companies that put employees first perform better

UN mosquito sterilization technology set for global testing, in battle against malaria, dengue

On Grexit: Incompetence just launched the historic Ultimatum that could open “pandora’s box”

Recovering from COVID-19: these are the risks to anticipate now – before it’s too late

Afghanistan: UN condemns blasts that leave 8 dead at cricket stadium

This is our chance to completely redefine the meaning of work

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

FROM THE FIELD: Green shoots of peace in South Sudan

EU trade agreements deliver on growth and jobs, support sustainable development

Sweden has invented a word to encourage people not to fly. And it’s working

Boat made of recycled plastic and flip-flops inspires fight for cleaner seas along African coast

“A divided Europe is not in China’s interests”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU welcomes Brussels

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. You could definitely see your skills in the work you write.

    The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as
    you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s