The Europe 2020 Competitiveness Report: Building a More Competitive Europe, 2014 edition


This second edition of a biennial series provides a review of Europe's progress on its competitiveness agenda. The report is divided into two sections. The first section, devoted to the "Measuring Europe's competitiveness", is based on the Europe 2020 Competitiveness Index. The second section, entitled "Country profiles", details the EU Member State's performance on the various components of the Europe 2020 Competitiveness Index.

The seven key dimensions of the Europe 2020 strategy are represented in a seven-pillar framework, that creates the Europe 2020 Competitiveness Index. The Index is made up of three sub-indexes that monitor Europe's progress towards becoming an increasingly smart, inclusive and sustainable economy:

  • The smart growth sub-index aims to measure the extent to which European countries are developing economies based on knowledge and innovation. It is made up of four pillars:
    • enterprise environment,
    • digital agenda,
    • innovative Europe,
    • education and training.
  • The inclusive growth sub-index captures the extent to which every member of society can contribute to and benefit from Europe's growth and development. This is captured through two pillars:
    • labour market and employment conditions
    • social inclusion

The sustainable growth sub-index is made up of just one pillar, measuring the extent to which the natural environment is contributing to overall national competitiveness and the preservation of a pollution-free environment.

For the general Europe 2020 index, Belgium is ranked 9th (out of 28), retaining the same position as in the previous edition. The Belgium's strengths are its educational and training systems (3rd), its scientific production (4th), the university-industry collaboration on R&D (3rd), the capacity for innovation (6th) and the availability of latest technologies (6th). In terms of social inclusion (5th), Belgium records a high rank for the accessibility of healthcare services (1st) and the social safety net protection (1st). In general, Belgium has a good enterprise environment (7th), with a good performance for the availability of finance (7th), despite very negative attitudes towards entrepreneurial failure (27th).

The weakenesses are observed in the efficiency of the labour market (24th) with strong rigidities in hiring and firing practices (25th). Belgium has also a very low activity rate (23rd) that could be partially explained by the negative effects of taxation on the incentives to work (25th), and a certain divergence between pay and productivity (22nd).

For environmental sustainability, Belgium reaches only the 17th position with a weak performance for the environmental treaty ratification (22nd) and the particulate matter concentration (26th).