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News announcement22 December 2020

The EU post-COVID recovery – strongly connected to all Sustainable Development Goals

The EU Recovery Plan will underpin more sustainable, fair, just and resilient EU after the coronavirus crisis, aligned with the SDG principles, according to a text mining analysis.

A JRC study shows a strong link between the EU Recovery Plan and all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
A JRC study shows a strong link between the EU Recovery Plan and all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
© rangizzz, AdobeStock

The social and economic recovery after the coronavirus crisis will generate a more sustainable, fair, just and resilient EU, in line with the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals. The EU Recovery Plan will be a strong instrument for boosting these post-crisis developments.

This is the conclusion of a JRC study published this week. The study shows a strong link between the Recovery Plan and all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


For this analysis, the scientists used a text mining approach based on a set of more than two hundred keywords defined, analysed and validated in a three-stage process, aggregated for the 169 targets of the 17 SDGs by means of a qualitative expert assessment of the findings.

Results per SDGs target

Most keywords relate to SDG 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (667 times, 32% of the total) and SDG 8 Sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all (297 times,14% of the total). The most detected target (340 times) was 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.

The analysis identified targets pertaining to all other SDGs. High numbers of targets linked to the EU Recovery Plan were: SDG 13 Climate action, SDG 4 Quality education, SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions, and SDG 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure.

Results per EU Recovery Plan pillar

JRC analysis showed that the first pillar of the EU Recovery Plan, Support Member States in Recovering, has the broader coverage in terms of goals and targets, as it is connected to eight goals, in particular with SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy, SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth, SDG 12 Responsible consumption and production, and SDG 13 Climate action.

The second pillar of the Plan, Kick-starting the economy, focuses mainly on SDG 9, whereas the third pillar, Learning the lessons from the crisis, focuses on SDG 3.

Text mining as a tool for continuous monitoring

These results represent a first overview of links between the plan and the SDGs. Making connections between the EU Recovery Plan and SDGs in an early phase of the policy development will contribute:

  • to highlight areas that may boost SDG implementation, along with areas that deserve more attention;
  • to facilitate SDG mainstreaming in the implementation phase, and
  • to monitor changes in SDGs’ coverage during the implementation process.

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Publication date
22 December 2020