The key findings of the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI), a comprehensive international comparative study conducted by the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, which applied 136 indicators to assess the government actions and reforms of all countries of the EU and OECD are anything but optimistic for Southern Europe.

The divisions in the EU are hardening given the biggest flow of refugees since World War II. Finding political solutions to the numerous international challenges is becoming increasingly difficult as a result of the mounting political polarization in many nations.

The Scandinavian countries achieved the best results, although under a growing social inequality.

In terms of social inequality and job opportunities, the crisis-stricken countries of Southern Europe face major problems. Although the situation on the labour market has slightly improved, years of austerity policies are still having a major impact. Long-term unemployment and child poverty are well into the double-digit percentage range in Southern European countries.

The debt crisis remains unresolved and an alarmingly high number of people are at risk of poverty.
Greece continues to come in last in the comparison among countries. One in five children in the country is affected by poverty. Youth unemployment is still at almost 50 percent, despite a slight drop. Thus far, there can be no talk of any actual easing in social plight.

At the same time, long-term budget consolidation is barely perceptible in most EU and OECD countries. Greece is now being crushed by its mountain of debt, which stands at 178.4 percent of annual economic output while Italy’s debt has increased again, to 132.6 percent of GDP.

From the financial and economic crisis to climate change, terrorism, and international migration flows, problems are becoming increasingly global. Yet, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for mutual problem solving because a number of OECD and EU countries and have been placing particular national interests ahead of the objective of joint international policy solutions.

“If the OECD and EU countries wish to improve their future viability, they must focus on strengthened cooperation and coordination as well as policies aiming for long-term solutions rather than national isolationism”, says Aart De Geus, Chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Source: Bertelsmann Stiftung