June 22, 2020 / 2:50 PM / 18 days ago

EU becoming safer, better-off and healthier - but less gender-equal

European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni speaks during a news conference on the 2020 Eurostat report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU, in Brussels, Belgium June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Crime, violence, poverty, ill health and air pollution have all declined in the European Union over the last five years - but gender inequality has worsened and efforts to fight climate change have achieved little.

A report from the EU statistics office, Eurostat, measured progress towards 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” between 2014 and 2019.

On most, there was progress across the 27 member states.

Deaths due to homicide or assault, and the perceived amount of crime, violence and vandalism, were all down. Governments spent more on courts, increasing confidence on the independence of the justice system.

More people were able to meet their basic needs, including medical care and adequate housing. Fewer were smoking or suffering from noise or air pollution, and life expectancy was up.

The gender gap has widened, however.

While women’s hourly earnings are slowly catching up with men’s, and the number of women in parliaments and occupying senior management positions in major companies has grown considerably, Eurostat said the overall balance was negative.

Inequalities in education and the labour market had risen and many more women than men were still economically inactive because they were caring for children or the elderly.

Eurostat marked the advance in “Climate action” as neutral, saying progress towards fighting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions had been mixed over the five years.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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