The Council approved an agreement reached with the European Parliament on new rules aimed at ensuring the quality and reliability of EU statistics.
The new rules, amending regulation 223/2009, are intended to help policymakers take decisions on the basis of better statistics.
Recent economic developments have shown the importance of credible statistics so that the public and financial markets can trust evidence-based policy decisions. Demand for reliable data increased further with enhanced economic policy coordination introduced at EU level since 2011. And equally important is the credibility of the institutions that produce statistics.
The draft regulation amends the legal framework for EU statistics, strengthening governance of the European statistical system (ESS). The ESS is a partnership between Eurostat i, the EU's statistical authority, and national statistical institutes (NSIs) and other national authorities with responsibility for statistics. Its mission is to provide reliable and comparable statistics at EU level.
The professional independence of national statistical authorities is key. The professional independence of Eurostat is also reaffirmed.
Autonomy and accountability
The amending regulation requires that heads of NSIs have the sole responsibility for deciding on processes, statistical methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of statistical releases and publications for all European statistics. Heads of NSIs must neither seek nor receive instructions from national governments or other bodies.
They must be empowered to decide on the internal management of their statistical offices, and able to comment on the budget allocated to them. Rules for the appointment of heads of NSIs must be transparent and based only on professional criteria, and the reasons for their dismissal, or transfer to another position, must not compromise professional independence.
Heads of NSIs should publish guidelines, where necessary, for ensuring quality statistics. They should be responsible for compliance with those guidelines within their NSIs, and should publish an annual report on their activities.
Similarly, the director general of Eurostat must have the sole responsibility for deciding on processes, statistical methods, and on the content and timing of statistical releases and publications by Eurostat. He/she must neither seek nor receive instructions from EU institutions or bodies, nor national governments or other bodies.
The procedure for the recruitment of the director general must be transparent and based on professional criteria.
Commitments by the member states and the Commission
To ensure public trust in European statistics and progress in implementation of the ESS European statistics code of practice, member states and the Commission are required to establish "commitments on confidence in statistics". Each commitment on confidence will be monitored by the Commission on the basis of annual reports by the member state.
The European statistics code of practice was adopted in 2005 and revised in 2011. It sets out 15 principles for the production and dissemination of statistics and the institutional environment in which EU and national statistical authorities operate. Indicators of good practice are set for each of the principles.
The amending regulation also reinforces a legal framework on access to administrative records for the production of European statistics.
Agreement with the European Parliament
Negotiations with the Parliament were led by the presidency, on the basis of a position established by the Council in February 2014. Agreement was reached on 3 December 2014.
The Council's approval of that outcome paves the way for adoption of the regulation at second reading.