INSEE is an active contributor to EU statistical work both as a direct participant and by coordinating the positions of French ministerial statistical offices. The Institute performs these functions at two levels. The first is the drafting and adoption of Community legislation on statistics. The second is data production and communication.
These activities are conducted by three bodies:
European Union statistics are produced by the EU statistical system in accordance with the statistical regulation of 11 March 2009, 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 this principle, national statistical systems are 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 Community 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 declaration obligations. Eurostat and the national statistical systems are in charge of disseminating the data.
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 251, i.e., co-decision.
The production of European statistics involves implementation of a programme, a "decision" that applies to the Member States. The statistical programme is presented by the Commission and then adopted by a qualified majority of the Council, and passed with identical wording by the European Parliament. The Council may delegate executive powers to the Commission: the texts are then approved by the Commission, usually assisted by a "committee" (ESAC, the European Statistical Advisory Committee) for statistical matters.
Committee decisions have regulatory force.
The Maastricht agreements, the establishment of the ECB, and the existence of Community regulations and aid have strengthened the necessary cooperation between European official statistical systems. Eurostat̬one of the European Commission's Directorates-General̬is in charge of implementing the Community's statistical policy and supplying the European Union with high-quality statistical information. Eurostat policy is guided by four priorities:
Eurostat assembles and standardizes the national statistics collected by Member States, calculates the aggregates for the EU25 and EU12 (euro area), translates the material, and adds brief commentary. It redisseminates across the EU the national data and the aggregates that it has computed. Eurostat does not perform economic analysis of its own. It works with Member States at the decision-making level and for access to national information.
With the adoption of the European Statistics Code of Practice, 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 our output: 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. Along with these measures, two European advisory bodies were set up in order to provide better visibility 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 respecting the principles of the Code and working towards its implementation.
As a first step, a self-assessment questionnaire detailing the principles and indicators of the Code of Practice was completed by Eurostat and all National Statistical Institutes belonging to the European Statistical System.
To complement the self-assessments, all National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat underwent a peer review in 2006/07 establishing compliance with the Code, in particular in the areas related to the institutional environment and dissemination of statistics (principles 1-6 and 15 of the Code of Practice).