The EU is a strong global performer in the transition towards fair and prosperous sustainability, with Denmark and Ireland leading the way, according to the second edition of the Transitions Performance Index (TPI), which was published by the Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation recently.

The Transitions Performance Index ranks EU Member States and 45 other countries, representing 76% of the world population, on their performance between 2011 and 2020.

Four specific transitions

The report shows overall performance as well in four specific transitions – economic, social, environmental and governance – mirroring the EU policy agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The index confirms that almost all EU countries have progressed well over the past decade in their transitions performance, with an average rate of 4.9%, compared with the global average rate of 4.3%.

Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, said: "Existing and emerging challenges require us to build a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive society. The TPI can support the discussion, help us to reflect and change perceptions to steer our path towards that aim. We must ensure our youth can look forward to a healthy, safe and innovative future."

All EU countries, except Hungary, have improved their performance since 2011, particularly Croatia, with an exceptional increase (13.5%), as well as Greece and Estonia (progress above 10%).

The two countries topping the EU ranking, Denmark and Ireland, are also global transition leaders. Overall, 19 EU countries perform above the EU27 average (4.9%). Increased efforts of several EU countries for example Malta and Czechia have enabled them to start outpacing strong performers.

Research and innovation (R&I) are vital to lead the social and economic transformation towards sustainability. By increasing the efficiency and adaptability of economic and social systems, R&I contributes to progress in the transitions measured by the TPI. The report illustrates that some countries could develop and take further advantage of their innovation capacity to improve their transitions performance.

Countries listed among the TPI transition leaders are also among the lead performers in social and governance transitions. Moreover, the findings show that continuous investment in education pays off, with the top economic performers scoring the highest in expenditure per student.

Environmental and economic transition performance

Even among top achievers, there remains significant scope for improvement, as no country leads across all four dimensions. In particular, there is a need to improve both environmental and economic transition performance across the EU.

The report also provides important linkages with other 'beyond GDP' measures which show strong correlations with other multidimensional approaches. In addition, it analyses possible links between transition performances and innovation, digitalisation, gender equality and poverty.

It opens avenues for further research on the determinants of performance and progress towards fair and sustainable prosperity, going beyond the conventional measurement of GDP.

The report includes 72 country-specific descriptions of progress made over a period of ten years, along with an interactive website, allowing for country comparison. An independent statistical audit performed by the Joint Research Centre validated the statistical methodology and the robustness of results.