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 European Commission > Eurostat > Quality > European Statistics Code of Practice > Implementation in Eurostat > Principle 1: Professional independence

Implementation in Eurostat: Institutional environment

Principle 1: Professional independence

 

Professional independence of statistical authorities from other policy, regulatory or administrative departments and bodies, as well as from private sector operators, ensures the credibility of European Statistics.

Indicator 1.1: The independence of the National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat from political and other external interference in developing, producing and disseminating statistics is specified in law and assured for other statistical authorities.

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In accordance with Regulation 223/2009 on European statistics (European Statistical Law), Eurostat ensures that European statistics are produced according to agreed rules and statistical principles. In particular, Eurostat is responsible for decisions on statistical methods, standards and procedures to be used for European statistics. These decisions may be incorporated into European legal acts which are adopted through a process involving consultation with national authorities, with other European Commission services, and with other EU institutions. A limited revision of the European Statistical Law is expected to be adopted by 2014 with a view to ensure an unconditional application of the principle of professional independence of Eurostat, National Statistical Institutes and other statistical authorities.

The Commission Decision on Eurostat (2012/504/EU) reinforces the professional independence with respect to Eurostat by referring in particular to the status and functional responsibilities of the Director General, notably in his capacity as Chief Statistician.

The Decision provides that the Director-General of Eurostat acts in an independent manner when carrying out statistical tasks, should neither seek nor take instructions from the Union institutions or bodies, from any government of a Member State, or from any other institution, body, office or entity.

According to the Article 4 of the Commission Decision of 17 September 2012 on Eurostat (2012/504/EU): "Eurostat shall develop, produce and disseminate European statistics in accordance with the statistical principles of professional independence, impartiality, objectivity, reliability, statistical confidentiality and cost-effectiveness as defined in Article 2 (1) of Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 and as further elaborated in the European statistics Code of Practise."

According to the Article 6 of the Commission Decision of 17 September 2012 on Eurostat (2012/504/EU):

"1. Eurostat shall be in charge of the development, production and dissemination of European statistics."

"2. Eurostat shall ensure that European statistics are made accessible to all users in accordance with statistical principles, in particular the principles of professional independence, impartiality and statistical confidentiality."

Moreover, the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) provides an independent overview of Code of Practice compliance in the European Statistical System. ESGAB is composed of seven members and Eurostat as an observer. ESGAB’s work aims at enhancing professional independence, integrity and accountability of the European Statistical System as well as at enhancing quality of European statistics.

Eurostat decides on the content and timing of release of statistical information to the public.

Indicator 1.2: The heads of the National Statistical Institutes and of Eurostat and, where appropriate, the heads of other statistical authorities have sufficiently high hierarchical standing to ensure senior level access to policy authorities and administrative public bodies. They are of the highest professional calibre.

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As a Director-General within the European Commission, the head of Eurostat ranks among the highest level of Commission staff.

Under the Commission's personnel recruitment policy the procedure to appoint a Director-General can be carried out by selection following external and/or internal publication of the job or by transfer of a senior official from another job within the Commission. Selection is according to the Commission's guidelines on senior manager appointment procedures. The Commission policy is to appoint senior managers with the highest qualifications and merit and with a good track record in management at the appropriate level. Key requirements for a Director-General of Eurostat are high professional standing and credibility as Chief Statistician of the European Union, within the European and international statistical community.

Indicator 1.3: The heads of the National Statistical Institutes and of Eurostat and, where appropriate, the heads of other statistical authorities have responsibility for ensuring that statistics are developed, produced and disseminated in an independent manner.

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According to the Article 7 of the Commission Decision of 17 September 2012 on Eurostat (2012/504/EU): "With regard to European statistics, the Director-General of Eurostat shall have sole responsibility for deciding on processes, statistical methods, standards and procedures, or on the content and timing of statistical releases, in accordance with the European statistical programme and the annual work programme. When carrying out these statistical tasks, the Director-General of Eurostat shall act in an independent manner; he or she shall neither seek nor take instructions from the Union institutions or bodies, from any government of a Member State, or from any other institution, body, office or entity."

Indicator 1.4: The heads of the National Statistical Institutes and of Eurostat and, where appropriate, the heads of other statistical authorities have the sole responsibility for deciding on statistical methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of statistical releases.

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In the European Statistical System, standards, methods and procedures are defined and agreed through consultation with the National Statistical Institutes of Member States. Eurostat chairs the European Statistical System Committee, which is composed of the Heads of Member States' National Statistical Institutes who are officially nominated as national coordinators of the statistical systems in Member States. This Committee provides professional guidance relating to the development, production and dissemination of European statistics. Quality is the main driver for decision making. Eurostat decides on the content and timing of release of statistical information to the public.

According to the Article 8 of the Commission Decision of 17 September 2012 on Eurostat (2012/504/EU): "The Chief Statistician shall be in charge of the development, production and dissemination of European statistics within the Commission."

According to the Article 7 of the Commission Decision of 17 September 2012 on Eurostat (2012/504/EU): "With regard to European statistics, the Director-General of Eurostat shall have sole responsibility for deciding on processes, statistical methods, standards and procedures, or on the content and timing of statistical releases, in accordance with the European statistical programme and the annual work programme. When carrying out these statistical tasks, the Director-General of Eurostat shall act in an independent manner; he or she shall neither seek nor take instructions from the Union institutions or bodies, from any government of a Member State, or from any other institution, body, office or entity."

Indicator 1.5: The statistical work programmes are published and periodic reports describe progress made.

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Eurostat prepares a European multi-annual statistical programme for the development, production and dissemination of European statistics for a period of up to 5 years. This programme is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

Under the European Statistical Law, Eurostat must present an intermediate progress report and a final evaluation report on the European statistical programme to the European Statistical System Committee and then to the European Parliament and to the Council.

Also each year, before the end of May, Eurostat presents to the Member States a first draft of its annual work programme for the following year. An annual work programme was also prepared for the Programme for the Modernisation of European Enterprise and Trade Statistics (MEETS) for the budget years 2009-2013. As the MEETS programme ends in December 2013, the annual work programme for 2013 was the last one for MEETS. A final report on MEETS implementation will be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council by 31/07/2014.

The current annual and multi-annual work programmes are both published on the Eurostat website.

Indicator 1.6: Statistical releases are clearly distinguished and issued separately from political/policy statements.

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Statistical releases are published by Eurostat according to a pre-specified schedule and never include political statements. Statistics published by Eurostat, including online data as well as online or paper publications, are clearly distinguished by the Eurostat logo.

Indicator 1.7: The National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat and, where appropriate, other statistical authorities, comment publicly on statistical issues, including criticisms and misuses of statistics as far as considered suitable.

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Under Eurostat's Protocol on Impartial Access to Eurostat Data for Users, Eurostat reserves the right to respond in an impartial manner to any misunderstandings or misleading interpretations of its outputs.

Indicator 1.8: The appointment of the heads of the National Statistical Institutes and Eurostat and, where appropriate, of other statistical authorities, is based on professional competence only. The reasons on the basis of which the incumbency can be terminated are specified in the legal framework. These cannot include reasons compromising professional or scientific independence.

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The current Director General was recruited through an external selection procedure. Eurostat high-level managers are often recruited through an external selection procedure. Removal of the Director-General from office is possible only by a decision of the Commission as the Appointing Authority and in accordance with the Staff Regulations.

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Last update 03.09.2014