This study looks at the recent development (1998–2009) in the number of years of schooling that a 6-year old can expect to attend until their 30th birthday for the EU-27 countries. All countries have seen an increase in the number of expected years of schooling, which is driven mainly by increased tertiary enrolment rates. At the same time the education gap vis-à-vis the US has been closed. The dispersion of expected length of education among EU countries has also decreased. Thus, by this measure, education among countries has become more equal. In spite of this progress, some countries will find it difficult to meet their national targets for tertiary educational attainments for 30–34 year-olds in 2020. This is largely because the tertiary education participation rates of young males have been falling behind those of females in many countries. Focussing on the tertiary educational attainments of 30–34 year-olds leaves governments with little time to pursue policies with substantial impact. It would be preferable to supplement the educational attainment target for 30–34 year-olds with an enrolment target for 20–24 year-olds.