On average, a 50-year-old man from Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden or Malta will live well past 70 without disability or any limitations on activities, ten extra years of healthy life compared to neighbors in Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia and Lithuania, according to the study published on Monday and cited by AFP news agency.
The highest average age is 73.6 in Denmark, and the lowest 59.0 in Estonia.
The average across the 25 EU countries in 2005 was 67.3 years free of activity limitations for men, and 68.1 years for women.
For both women and men, Britain, France and Greece are above the EU average, while Germany, Finland, Portugal and the Czech Republic are all below.
Residents in the European Union's wealthier nations live in good health up to 14 years longer than their more recent EU neighbors to the east, the study showed.
European nations averaging the fewest "healthy life years" face serious challenges in containing health care costs, the study by a team of researchers led by Carol Jagger at the University of Leicester in Britain concluded.