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 European Commission > Eurostat > Quality > European Statistics Code of Practice > Implementation in Eurostat > Principle 9: Non-excessive burden on respondents

Implementation in Eurostat: Statistical processes

Principle 9: Non-excessive Burden on Respondents


The reporting burden is proportionate to the needs of the users and is not excessive for respondents. The statistical authorities monitor the response burden and sets targets for its reduction over time.

Indicator 9.1: The range and detail of European Statistics demands is limited to what is absolutely necessary.

Eurostat prepares an Annual Work Programme which takes into account the prioritized statistical needs of the European Commission, as well as financial constraints and the response burden. A review of the process for preparing the Annual Work Programmes was carried out in 2009. The main change introduced was the early involvement of the Commission Directorates-General (main users), the European Statistical System Committee, Directors' Groups (representing producers) and the European Statistical Advisory Committee (representing the external user community), as part of the process to establish strategic priorities. On the basis of these strategic priorities the detailed Annual Work Programme is drafted and submitted to the European Statistical System Committee and the European Statistical Advisory Committee before the end of May each year.

To avoid duplication of surveys at European and international level, Eurostat co-operates closely with other bodies at international level. Where appropriate, joint collections are undertaken e.g. for the joint questionnaire on education statistics, involving the UNESCO Institute of Statistics and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The regulation concerning the procedures for the collection of statistics by the European Central Bank and the European Statistical Law emphasise close cooperation in the production of European statistics between the European System of Central Banks and the European Statistical System, in order to minimise the reporting burden and to guarantee the coherence necessary to produce European statistics. A Memorandum of Understanding between Eurostat and the Statistics Directorate General of the European Central Bank has been signed to reinforce these principles and a European Statistical Forum created to coordinate the production of European statistics within the two systems.

Furthermore, the reporting and frequency of European statistics were reviewed in a number of priority areas in line with the Communication on reduction of the response burden, simplification and priority-setting and the Action Programme for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the EU. These areas concern intra-EU trade (Intrastat), structural business statistics, industrial production (Prodcom), certain agriculture statistics (in particular, Crops statistics, Animal statistics and the Farm Structure Surveys), short-term statistics, information society, tourism, maritime and road transport statistics.

A strategy for modernising business statistics, of which the Programme for Modernisation of European Enterprise and Trade Statistics (MEETS) and the Framework Regulation Integrating Business Statistics are part, has been developed. The objective is increased relevance and reduction of burden. The strategy strongly promotes the use of administrative and existing data sources and finding more efficient ways of compiling and collecting data. For intra-EU trade (Intrastat), the need to reduce burden on respondents has been addressed in the Eurostat proposal called SIMSTAT (Single Market Statistics). The core of the SIMSTAT proposal is the exchange of micro-data on intra-EU trade between Member States. This will be tested within an ESS.VIP project.

In view of the results already achieved in the areas that have been identified as most burdensome, the focus has now shifted towards the modernisation of the whole production system. The more comprehensive and holistic strategy laid down in the "Communication on the production method of EU statistics: a vision for the next decade" aims to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the production process. Eurostat is currently developing and testing methods and corresponding infrastructure that maximise the use of existing data (model based estimations, data matching) in order to meet the ever growing demand for more data while maintaining and possibly decreasing the current level of burden on respondents. The main examples of this approach are the ESS.VIP projects SIMSTAT, ESBRs and ICT.

Also, the ESA 2010 Transmission Programme has been agreed taking into account a good balance between user needs and respondent and NSI burden. Derogations up to 2020 may be granted on request to the NSI in order to allocate the implementation burden over more years.

Indicator 9.2: The reporting burden is spread as widely as possible over survey populations

In line with the subsidiarity principle, the design of national surveys is the responsibility of national statistical authorities.

Indicator 9.3: The information sought from businesses is, as far as possible, readily available from their accounts and electronic means are used where possible to facilitate its return.

Eurostat does not collect data directly from businesses as this is the responsibility of the national statistical authorities. However, in 2009, a European level project to study the possibility of using accounting data for statistical purposes was carried out. Before more variables can be drawn directly from the accounts of businesses, further alignment of definitions in the statistical regulations is necessary. The results will be instrumental for the Framework Regulation Integrating Business Statistics (FRIBS), i.e. a cross-cutting framework regulation for the integration of all business related statisitcs. A draft Commission proposal is envisaged for 2015. Eurostat also provided financing under the Programme for Modernisation of European Enterprise and Trade Statistics (MEETS) for facilitating data transfer between respondents and National Statistical Institutes in the area of business statistics (national taxonomies, XBRL).

Indicator 9.4: Administrative sources are used whenever possible to avoid duplicating requests for information.

Under the European Statistical Law, Eurostat has access to administrative data sources within the European Commission for the production of European statistics. Eurostat advocates the use of appropriate administrative data sources in its discussions with Member States, as part of the Eurostat vision for the production of European statistics for the next decade.

National statistical authorities decide on the most appropriate data sources for a statistical collection and Eurostat provides methodological (and in some cases financial) support to develop the use of administrative data sources.

Indicator 9.5: Data sharing within statistical authorities is generalised in order to avoid multiplication of surveys.

The sharing of data is also a key element of the Eurostat vision for the production of European statistics for the next decade. In this vision, the development of collaborative networks is proposed to create and exploit ways of sharing statistical data across the European Statistical System. In addition, Eurostat closely collaborates with international organisations with a view to jointly collect and/or share the data collected from National Statistical Institutes.

Indicator 9.6: Statistical authorities promote measures that enable the linking of data sources in order to reduce reporting burden.

Through feasibility studies, methodological work and case studies, Eurostat and the ESS are developing expertise in the domain of statistical matching and data linking. Methods are being tested and implemented at various levels. They will be supported by the development of a data warehousing approach at Eurostat and ESS level.

See also

Last update 10.03.2011