What Every European Country Needs to Improve


The European Union has 28 member countries and they make for a pretty great place to live.

But that doesn’t mean each country is without its flaws.

Here’s some statistics about what every European country is the worst at.

Austria: Most youth smokers
Every day, 29.4% of Austrians age 15-24 inhale cigarette smoke. And smoking is rising alarmingly in Austria: the Eurobarometer found an increase of smoking prevalence in Austria from 31% (2006) to 33% (2012).

Belgium: Worst traffic congestion
In the time it takes to drive through a Belgian city, you could probably eat a dozen waffles. According to the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, the two most traffic-congested cities in the world, Brussels and Antwerp, are both in Belgium.

Bulgaria: Least freedom of the press
According to Reporters without Borders, and although closely challenged by Greece, Bulgaria has the least freedom of the press in the European Union, and it ranked 87th on a list of 179 countries in the world. The country with the most freedom of the press in the world? Finland.

Finland: Highest depression rate
Finland is really good at a lot of things–like freedom of the press and education. But depression is pretty prevalent. According to the EU Mental Health Report, it is the highest in Europe. Fortunately, Finland’s suicide rate is no where near Lithuania’s.

France: Lowest English proficiency
According to the EF English Language Proficiency Index, French people rank as the lowest in Europe for their English language skills. The countries where English is moat wiedly and proficiently spoken are Denmark and the Netherlands. Somewhere, a guy eating soft cheese and a baguette is saying, “I don’t care” in French.

Italy: Most tax evasion
Death may be certain in Italy, but taxes are another matter: the official Italian Government tax collector, Agenzia delle Entrate, estimated €285 billion remained unpaid last year, about 18% of GDP. Italy has the highest percentage of unreported economic activity of any European Union country.

Latvia: Highest percentage of prisoners
Eurostat Crime Statistics tracks the number of homicides and inprisoned population throughout the European Union. Latvia has the highest percentage of its population in prison, with 305 per 100,000 inhabitants locked up. And yet, despite that mind-boggling figure, it’s only half of the rate in the United States, which sits at 716 per 100,000.

Lithuania: Highest suicide rate
According to data from the World Health Organization, in which a country’s rank is determined by its total rate deaths officially recorded as suicides in the most recent available year, 65 of every 100 thousands Lithuanians commit sucide every year. Lithuania’s suicide rate is so high, it’s nearly ten times higher than Greece’s.

Luxembourg: Lowest education spending
In 2007 Luxembourg spent only 3.15% of its GDP to fund public education.

Malta: Hardest country to open a business
On a list of 189 countries compiled by the World Bank, Malta improves but remains the most difficult place to start a business in the EU. It ranked no. 161. It even outranked other countries notorious for disorganization like China, the West Bank, and Spain.

Netherlands: Highest percentage of cyclists killed in road accidents
It’s really hard to find anything wrong with the Netherlands.  Despite the stereotypes, though, the Dutch are far from the highest consumers of marijuana (that would be Denmark). But on the off chance you get into a car accident in any EU country, the odds of killing a cyclist are highest in the Netherlands.

Portugal: Lowest crude birth rate
Portugal has just 7.9 births per 1,000 inhabitants. That’s almost half of Ireland’s 15.0 births per 1,000 inhabitants. So basically, 21st century Europe is going to be populated by a lot of Irish people and not very many Portuguese people.

Romania: Fewest cinemas per capita
Romania has only 3.8 cinemas per million inhabitants. On the other end of the spectrum, the Czech Republic has the most cinemas per capita, with 49.2 cinemas per million inhabitants.

Slovakia: Lowest voter turnout
Who votes in Slovakia? Almost nobody. Actually, it’s 13.05% of the population, but that’s a very low turnout. Voter turnout was the highest in Belgium, with 89.64% of the population showing up to vote.

Slovenia: Most alcoholism deaths
It is definitely is a sad record.

Spain: Highest school dropout rate
For any Spaniard reading this, a dropout rate is the percentage of students who do not complete schooling. In Spain’s case, 23.5% of students in the country do not complete mandatory education.

Sweden: Fewest hospital beds per capita
Maybe Sweden has fewer sick people than other countries. Or maybe Swedish hospitals prefer patients bring their own sleeping bags.

UK: Highest cocaine usage
Here are three other drugs the United Kingdom uses more of than any other country in the EU: amphetamines, ecstasy, and LSD.

Continue reading about:

Croatia – Least Erasmus participation
Cyprus – Fewer 18 year old in School
Denmark – Fewest Zaras per capita
Germany – Lowest homeownership rate
Greece – Highest foreign debt
Hungary: Highest VAT (value added tax)
Ireland – Highest rate of cystic fibrosis
Poland -Fewest doctors per capita

On Thrillist.com


4 thoughts on “What Every European Country Needs to Improve

  1. A fascinating list. Not all of it is a “flaw” – fewest Zaras per capita are hardly something that should (or should not) be improved, but I guess it means Denmark has little room for improvement. I also wonder a bit about the credibility of some of the data and the exact definitions but that’s another story alltogether.


    • I am with you Michael. The purpose of this post was not to carry out a scientific and complete study. The purpose was to use some random intriguing stats that may rise a few eyebrows to shed light on some peculirar differences that we can find amongst Europeans.


      • It is peculiar by all means. Malta’s random fact is my favourite. I had no idea starting a business anywhere in the EU could be that difficult. Goes to show that Europe is nowhere near a unified whole.


  2. Pingback: A Global Blog | New European

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