Europe, one and divided

Eurostat, the EU statistics office, is also its databank. Its surveys "provide snapshots" on the population, economy and daily life of EU28

On October 20 was celebrated the Second World Statistics Day. Celebrations in EU offices focused on Eurostat, the EU statistics office, with headquarters in Luxembourg. Founded in 1953, at the time of the Coal and Steel Community Eurostat was integrated within the structures of the European Commission in 1958. Today it is a “Directorate General” chaired by the Commissioner with responsibilities for Labor and Social Affairs. The figures collected by Eurostat are used by the EU government to monitor and assess the effectiveness of her own policies, to analyze the diverse situations at regional and national level, and thereby establish the priority areas, how and where to allocate EU Budget funds, where to adopt economic and social measures, and which amendments need to be made to EU interventions. The spotlight in on demography and society, various kinds of economic indicators, agriculture, energy and environment, transportation, science and technology… In addition to the figures most often reported by media outlets on employment, poverty and GDP, there is also a great amount recently published researches. There emerges the profile of a Europe “united in diversity”. From urban to rural areas. Each year are announced the most relevant demographic figures on the EU, which show, for example, that 1 January 2015, EU population numbered 508.2 million people, 1.3 million more compared to the previous year. The difference between births and deaths is +0.2 million people. The remaining share of new Europeans is a result of immigration. Increases were registered in 16 countries (most notably Luxembourg, followed by Sweden, Malta, Austria and Denmark), while the population is declining in Cyprus, Greece, Latvia and Lithuania. Germany is the most populated country, home to 16% of EU citizens. 40% of Europeans live in cities, 28% in rural areas, the remaining 32% in medium and small urban centers. The UK has the record of urban population, Luxembourg the highest number of rural inhabitants. A population of internauts. In whichever place they live, citizens go online. In fact, 65% of those aged 16-74 go online on a daily basis (31% in 2006); 75% does so regularly, while 18% of the population never goes online (43% in 2006). The least number of online connections were registered in Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. In Italy over 30% of all inhabitants has never accessed the web, compared to 3% in Denmark. Eurostat has also surveyed the number of people accessing the “IT Cloud”. One citizen every saves file, most frequently pictures, to the cloud. The figures reach 35% among youths, and falls to 10% among over-55 citizens. 55% of web users ignore the existence of “cloud” storage. Increasing clean energy. Energy consumption in the EU is decreasing, according to Eurostat, and has returned to the levels of the early 1990s. This is perhaps the only positive aspect of the economic crisis. However, 53% of electricity is imported. EU production from nuclear energy (29%), renewable energies (24%), solid fuels (20%), gas (17%), oil (9%) and non-recyclable waste is not sufficient. The least dependent are Estonia, Denmark, and Romania. The countries that import most or all of their energy are Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus and Ireland: three islands and a tiny Country. A positive figure: consumption of renewable energy has reached 15%; it was 8.3% in 2004. Education: lights and shadows. Increasing numbers have completed their high-school studies while there are fewer dropouts. While in 2002 23.6% of youths had a high-school diploma, figures rose to 37.9% in 2014. High-school graduates in Lithuania, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Ireland, are more than 50%. Italy ranks last, (23.9%), preceded by just a few percentage points by Romania, Malta and Slovakia. School dropouts fell from 17% in 2002 to 11% in 2014. Spain and Malta have equally poor figures, with over 20% of dropouts, Croatia stands out with only 2.7%. Within this positive trend the alert is on non-EU citizens aged 18-24 who abandon their studies and education programs in 25% of cases, with negative implications on integration. School and multilingualism. Eurostat shows that there are 8.3 million teachers in the EU (from kindergarten to college), 70% of whom are women. While 95% of teachers in nurseries and kindergartens are women, 85% in primary schools, figures reverse in secondary schools and universities, where the presence of women falls to 41%. A positive aspect: over 80% of pupils in EU primary schools study a foreign language. In Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Spain, France and Poland, almost everyone study foreign languages. The trend is lower in Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia (less than 50%). 16.7 million children learn English in primary schools, over 17 million in secondary schools.

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