2009 data confirm a decreasing trend in early school leaving, but achieving the EU target is still a challenge.

Increasing education levels is one of the main EU objectives. Reducing early school leaving to not more than 10 % of 18 to 24 year olds was set as EU target to be achieved by 2010. As the EU failed to achieve this target, it has been reaffirmed within the EU 2020 strategy.


Source: Eurostat, Labour Force Survey.
Notes: UK and Denmark: 2007 instead of 2005, Sweden: provisional data, Luxembourg: break in series in 2009

Key points:

  • In 2009, at EU level 14.4% of 18 to 24 year olds had at most lower secondary education and were not in education and training, still notably above the EU target of 10%.
  • The EU average dropped by 0.5 percentage points compared to 2008. It is the largest – though still moderate – annual decrease since 2005, and confirms the decreasing trend in early school leaving. The overall drop between 2005 and 2009 is 1.4 percentage points.
  • Major progress towards the EU target (between 2005 and 2009) is observed in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Portugal (more than 5 percentage points decrease), and in Malta, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Romania (between 2 and 3 percentage points).
  • Some countries set a good example with early school leaving below 10%: Finland, Lithuania, Austria, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland and Slovakia. . In around half of the Member States, early school leaving is close to 10%.
  • Some countries still face big challenges, in particular Malta, Spain and Portugal where 30 % of 18 to 24 year olds are hit by early school leaving.


Note: The indicator used for early school leaving is the percentage of 18 to 24 year olds with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training.

Data presented here originate from Eurostat’s Labour Force Survey (EU LFS). They are subject to its general methodology and to the specific methodology adopted for the calculation of the indicator “Early school leavers”.