Europe 2020

In 2010 the European Union adopted Europe 2020, a 10-year strategy based on agreements about economic growth and employment. The Netherlands has already made progress towards these targets.

Agreements on boosting economic growth

Europe 2020 contains agreements by the EU member states on how to strengthen economic growth. Their 10-year plan aims to:

  • create employment in the EU;
  • address social and economic challenges such as the consequences of demographic ageing, poverty, the growing scarcity of natural resources, climate change and innovation.

Europe 2020 headline targets

The EU has set ambitious objectives to be reached by 2020 in 5 main areas: education, employment, innovation, climate change and poverty.

Table: Europe 2020 headline targets
  • The percentage of unqualified early school-leavers should be under 10%.
  • At least 40% of 30 to 34-year-olds should have completed tertiary education or the equivalent.
  • 75% of the population aged 20-64 should be employed.
  • 3% of the EU’s GDP should be invested in research & development.
Climate change and energy sustainability
  • Greenhouse gas emissions should be at least 20% lower than in 1990.
  • 20% of energy should come from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal power.
  • Energy efficiency should be increased by at least 20%.
  • The number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion should be reduced by at least 20 million.

The Europe 2020 strategy in the Netherlands

The EU is using the headline targets to measure member states' progress in meeting the Europe 2020 goals. The EU-level targets are translated into national targets in each EU country, reflecting different situations and circumstances. The national targets for the Netherlands are as follows:

Dutch national targets Achieved in 2012
Cut percentage of unqualified early school-leavers < 8% 8.8%
Increase percentage of 30 to 34-year-olds with at least a higher professional education (HBO) qualification > 40% 42.3%
Dutch national targets Achieved in 2012
Increase labour participation from 69% to 75% 80% 76.6%
Research & Development
Dutch national targets Achieved in 2012
Increase spending on R&D from 1.9% to 3% of GDP 2.5% 2.16%
Climate change & renewable energy
Dutch national targets Achieved in 2012
Cut CO2 emissions by businesses outside the Emissions Trading System (ETS) by 20% 16% 15.2%
ETS sectors Not applicable Not applicable
20% renewable energy 14% 4.5%
20% energy saving 1.5% per year 1.1% on average per year (2004-2012)
Dutch national targets Achieved in 2012
At least 20 million fewer people at risk of poverty and social exclusion 100,000 fewer workless households 22,000 more workless households than in 2008, due to the economic crisis

National reform programmes

As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, member states have to submit their national reform programmes every year in April, outlining what they are doing to achieve the Europe 2020 targets. They also submit stability programmes, setting out their budgetary and tax policies.

On the basis of these two documents the EU provides country-specific recommendations on strengthening the economy. In 2014 the Netherlands was advised to take further measures to boost labour participation.

Interim public consultation on the Europe 2020 strategy

In order to review progress on Europe 2020, the European Commission held a public consultation. At the beginning of 2015, based on the feedback it has received, the European Commission will make further recommendations for improving the Europe 2020 strategy.