European statistics - A Vision for the next decade

In August 2009, Eurostat presented a Communication on the production method of EU statistics: A vision for the next decade, which was adopted by the European Commission. The Communication outlines how the European Statistical System (ESS) should be modernised in the longer term to meet the challenges that statistical producers are faced with at national and European levels.

In May 2010 the European System Statistical Committee adopted a joint ESS strategy for the implementation of the Commission Communication on the production method for EU statistics.

The objective of the “Vision” is to improve the efficiency of European statistics by reforming their production methods. According to the Vision paper, Eurostat and the national statistical institutes (NSIs) need to adapt their products and services in order to satisfy users and continue to play a relevant role in EU policy-making.

The main idea is to move away from the traditional way of producing statistics in silos, or 'stovepipes', to a more integrated production model. The current stovepipe production model is not well adapted to collecting data on phenomena that cover multiple dimensions, such as climate change or globalisation. The current model is also costly and less efficient, as it does not make use of standardisation between areas and collaboration between Member States. By avoiding duplication of work Eurostat and the NSIs will increase efficiency, reduce burden on respondents and cut the cost of compiling statistics.

Another important element is to better understand and respond to user needs. For many users statistical information is abstract and the more complex the production and methodologies become, the more it is necessary to explain the results. New ways of communicating with users should also be explored.

Key documents

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Code of Practice

In 2005 Eurostat and the statistical authorities of the EU Member States committed themselves to adhere to the European Statistics Code of Practice, which sets out 15 key principles for the production and dissemination of European Statistics and the Code is now anchored in the European Statistical Law.

The implementation of the Code follows a self-regulatory approach and a set of indicators of good practice for each of the 15 principles provides a reference for reviewing its implementation. National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat undertook self-assessments in 2005 covering all the principles of the Code. These self-assessments were then followed up by Peer Reviews between 2006 and 2008, which focused on the institutional environment and the dissemination of statistics.

The European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) provides an independent overview of the European Statistical System regarding the implementation of the Code of Practice and its recommendations, together with those of the Peer Reviews, are monitored on an annual basis.

More information on the Code and on how it is being implemented in Eurostat and in Member States is available in the Quality section of the Eurostat website.

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Statistical programmes

Multiannual Programme

The Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on European statistics constitutes the legal basis for the preparation of the European statistical programme, providing the framework for the development, production and dissemination of European statistics, the main fields and the objectives of the actions envisaged for a period not exceeding five years. The current programme covers the period 2008-2012. It was established by the Council Decision 1578/2007/EC of 11 December 2007. The five-year programmes are backed up by annual programmes that set more detailed objectives for each year.


Annual Programme 2011

The Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on European statistics and the Communication on the improvement of coordination of statistical work, adopted by the Commission on 21 February 1996 (SEC (96) 253/4 of 15 February 1996), provide for the Commission adoption of an annual statistical work programme.

This programme is discussed with the Statistical authorities of the Member States and Commission services concerned. The statistical work programme of the Commission comprises the priorities of the Commission as regards the statistical work for 2011. It relates to the 2008–2012 programme and to the political guidelines for the next Commission published on 3 September 2009.

Statistical Programme 2011

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Statistical Committees

Eurostat does not work alone. Since the early days of the Community it was realised that decisions on and planning and implementation of Community policies must be based on reliable and comparable statistics. So the European Statistical System (ESS) was built up gradually with the objective of providing comparable statistics at EU level.

The ESS comprises Eurostat and the statistical offices, ministries, agencies and central banks that collect official statistics in EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Member States collect data and compile statistics for national and EU purposes. The ESS functions as a network in which Eurostat’s role is to lead the way in the harmonization of statistics in close cooperation with the national statistical authorities. ESS work concentrates mainly on EU policy areas - but, with the extension of EU policies, harmonization has been extended to nearly all statistical fields.

The ESS also coordinates its work with candidate countries, at European level with other Commission services, agencies and the ECB and international organisations such as OECD, the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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European Statistical System Committee (ESSC)

At the heart of the ESS is the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC), which was established by Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the EP and Council of 11 March 2009 on European statistics.

Article 7 of the Regulation lays down its task: The Committee "shall provide professional guidance to the ESS for developing, producing and disseminating European statistics…"

In practice, this means that the Commission shall consult the ESS Committee in regard to (see Art. 7 and 17):

a) the measures which the Commission intends to take for the development, production and dissemination of European Statistics, their justification on a cost-effectiveness basis, the means and timetables for achieving them, the reporting burden on survey respondents;

b) proposed developments and priorities in the European Statistical Programme;

c) the annual work programme for the following year;

d) initiatives to bring into practice the reprioritization and reduction of the response burden;

e) issues concerning statistical confidentiality;

f) the further development (revision or update) of the Code of Practice;

g) any other question, in particular issues of methodology, arising from the establishment or implementation of statistical programmes.


The ESSC is chaired by the Commission (Eurostat) and composed of the representatives of Member States' National Statistical Institutes. EEA-EFTA countries' National Statistical Institutes participate as observers. Observers from ECB, OECD etc. may participate in the meetings of the ESSC.

It will meet four times a year; the first meeting took place on Thursday, 14 May 2009

Useful links:


For further information, please contact the ESSC Secretariat: Astrid Meesters, Tel. (352) 4301-38321 and Sue Lyssejko, Tel. (352) 4301-37273; Fax (352) 4301-30774.

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Statistical Programme Committee (SPC)

Following the entry into force of Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Statistics on 1st April 2009, the Statistical Programme Committee has been replaced by the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC).

The SPC was set up by Council Decision 89/382/EEC, Euratom of 19 June 1989 (OJ L 181/47) and assisted the Commission in the general coordination of the Multiannual Statistical Programmes, in order to ensure that the actions to be undertaken were consistent with those decided upon in the national statistical programmes.

The last meeting of the SPC took place on 12 February 2009 (69th SPC meeting).

Useful links:

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