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INSEE in the European Statistical System

Last update: November 2014

INSEE is an active contributor to EU statistical work both as a direct participant and by coordinating the positions of French ministerial statistical departments. The Institute performs these functions at two levels. The first is the drafting and adoption of Union legislation on statistics. The second is data production and dissemination.


Activities and organisation

1-Drafting and adoption of Community legislation on statistics

These activities are conducted by three bodies:

  • Eurostat Working Groups draft statistical regulations. Member States representatives are consulted by Eurostat (Commission DG in charge of statistics). Regulation proposals after having been submitted for consultation to other DGs are adopted by the college of Commissioners.
  • The Council's Statistical Working Group negociates the regulations prior to their final adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.
  • The European Statistical System Committee (ESSC), which operates alongside Eurostat, includes the Directors General of the National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) of the European Union member countries. The ESSC is consulted on draft regulations before the Commission sends them to the European Parliament and the Council. The ESSC also adopts Commission regulations enacted to implement the European Parliament and Council regulations.

2-Statistical production

European Union statistics are produced by the EU statistical system in accordance with the statistical regulation of 11 March 2009. The ESS is the partnership between the EU statistical authority, i.e. the Commission (Eurostat) and the National Statistics Institutes (NSIs), as well as the other national authorities responsible in each Member State for developing, producing and disseminating European statistics. In accordance with the subsidiarity principle, national statistical systems are generally free to choose their data-collection methods, such as surveys and processing of administrative data. In exchange, they are responsible for information quality, as defined by regulations and decisions enacted at EU level. Eurostat coordinates the statistical activities of EU institutions and bodies with the aim, among other things, of guaranteeing the consistency and quality of data and of minimising reporting burden. Eurostat and the national statistical systems are in charge of disseminating these statistics.

3-How European institutions operate in the statistical domain

Within the European Union Council, statistical issues are handled by ECOFIN, i.e., the Council of Economy and Finance Ministers of the Member States. Except for procedures relating to the status of the European Central Bank (ECB), decisions pertaining to statistics are taken by the Council and the European Parliament under the procedures covered by article 294 (ex 251) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, i.e. the ordinary legislative procedure.

The production of European statistics involves implementation of a programme, a regulation that applies to Eurostat and the Member States. The multiannual statistical programme is presented by the Commission, negotiated and then adopted by a qualified majority of the Council, and by the European Parliament. Annual programmes are derived from this multiannuel programme.

The deepening of the EU integration resulting from the several European Treaties has strengthened the need for European statistics. Eurostat, one of the European Commission's Directorates-General, is in charge of conducting the EU statistical policy and supplying the European Union with high-quality statistical information. Eurostat policy is guided by four priorities:

  • supplying users (European and national institutions, social partners, and general public) with reliable, comparable information
  • defining common EU standards
  • developing the EU statistical system, in particular while
  • promoting exchanges of know-how between Member States

Eurostat standardizes the national statistics. It gathers statistics collected by Member States, calculates the aggregates for the EU28 and EU18 (euro area), translates the material, and adds brief commentary. It redisseminates across the EU the national data and EU aggregates. Eurostat does not perform economic analysis of its own nor produces its own statistics. It works with Member States at the decision-making level and for dissemination of national information.

4- European Statistics quality framework

With the adoption of the European Statistics Code of Practice and its revision in 2011, Eurostat and the statistical authorities of the EU-Member States have committed themselves to an encompassing approach towards high quality statistics. It builds upon a common European Statistical System definition of quality in statistics and targets all relevant areas from the institutional environment, the statistical production processes to the dissemination of European official statistics.

The European Statistics Code of Practice sets out 15 key principles for the production and dissemination of European official statistics and for the institutional environment in which national and European Community statistical authorities operate. A set of indicators of good practice for each of the 15 principles provides a reference for reviewing the implementation of the Code. The European Statistics Code of Practice was adopted by the Finance Ministers in June 2005 and was revised in 2011. Along with these measures, two European advisory bodies were set up in order to strive for better quality of European statistics: the European Statistical Advisory Committee (ESAC) and the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB).

With the adoption of the Code of Practice, the European Statistical System has committed itself to complying with Code principles and to working towards its implementation.

All National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat underwent a first peer review in 2006/07 establishing compliance with the Code. A second peer review 2014-2015 has been initiated. As recommended by the ESSC, the new round of peer reviews will be more ambitious than the previous one as it will cover all principles of the CoP, the coordination role of the NSI and the NSS cooperation and its level of integration

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  • Eurostat Quality site: Eurostat's mission is to provide the European Union with a high-quality statistical information service.