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“European Statistics Code of Practice still not fully implemented by
Eurostat and Member States” - EU Auditors
Reliable and credible statistics are vital for the functioning of the
Statistics are used in almost all areas, for formulating EU policies,
for the collection and allocation of EU funds, and for monitoring performance.
More and more European policies depend on statistics to trigger
decisions or sanctions.
The Court’s audit found that the Commission and Eurostat have not yet
achieved the full implementation of the European Statistics Code of Practice.
The Code sets demanding standards but lacks strong verification and
enforcement tools to ensure adherence to the standards throughout the ESS.
“The Commission, Eurostat and Member States share a common
responsibility for maintaining public trust and confidence in European
statistics.” said Louis Galea, the ECA Member responsible for the report.
“The Commission’s recent initiatives to give new momentum to achieving
full compliance with the Code go in the right direction, but are not sufficient
to address all concerns.
Ambiguity on which elements of the Code are legally binding persists,
making verification and enforcement more difficult.”
As to the European statistical programme 2008 to 2012, the audit found
that Eurostat had not designed it as an effective planning, monitoring and
Reprioritisation of statistical activities towards new challenges was
Regarding the financial management of the programme, the audit found
that Eurostat’s grant management improved, but weaknesses in procurement
The draft programme 2013 to 2017 provides an opportunity to reengineer
the ESS in order to make it more efficient and flexible provided that it is
supplemented by precise targets and milestones.
The Court makes a number of recommendations to improve this area:
strengthening the system of European statistics to ensure professional
independence, sufficient resources, effective supervision, with sanctions and
swift improvement measures for cases where quality standards are not respected;
achieving the full implementation of the European Statistics Code of
Practice by amending the regulatory framework and ensuring legal certainty about
the nature of the obligation to adhere to the Code;
enhancing the professional independence of the Chief Statistician of
the European Union by appointing her/him for a fixed-term mandate after having
received a favourable opinion from European Statistical Governance Advisory
Board and an endorsement by the European Parliament and the Council;
ensuring a systematic review of statistical priorities and encouraging
simplifying Eurostat’s grant management and enhancing competition in
Notes to the editors:
European Court of Auditors special reports are published throughout the
year, presenting the results of selected audits of specific EU budgetary areas
or management topics.
This special report 12/2012 (“Did the Commission and Eurostat improve
the process for producing reliable and credible European statistics?”) examines:
whether the Commission and Eurostat have taken all steps
necessary to fulfil their role in achieving the implementation of the Code of
Practice throughout the European Statistical System;
and whether Eurostat manages the European statistical programme as a
tool for improving the production of European statistics well.
Since 2005, efforts have been made to enhance the European Statistical
System (ESS), the framework within which European statistics are developed,
produced and disseminated.
The ESS is a partnership
between the Union statistical authority (Eurostat) and National Statistical
Institutes within Member States.
NSIs collect and verify national data and send them to Eurostat which
consolidates these figures with a view to ensuring that they are comparable.
The European Statistics Code of Practice, introduced in 2005 and
amended in 2011, sets the standards for developing, producing and disseminating
The Code is meant to ensure that European statistics meet user needs
through an efficient production process taking place in a credible institutional
environment which guarantees professional independence.
The European statistical programme sets the objectives for the
development, production and dissemination of European statistics.
The current 2008 to 2012 programme has planned expenditure of 274
The audit of the Court focussed on the process of producing European
It did not assess the reliability of specific statistical outputs.