The mission statement of Eurostat is:
To be the leading provider of high quality statistics on Europe.
Eurostat was established in 1953 to meet the requirements of the Coal and Steel Community. It is the Statistical Office of the European Union and its purpose is to gather and consolidate official data from the National Statistics Institutes (NSIs) of EU member states (MS) to enable comparability between countries and regions. In 1958 it became a Directorate-General (DG) of the European Commission. Eurostat supplies the Commission and other European Institutions with data so they can define, implement and analyse Community policies. It offers a whole range of important and interesting data that governments, businesses, the education sector, journalists and the public can use for their work and daily life.
Previous practice of Gentlemen's Agreements between MS and Eurostat to provide data, in a 'partnership of equals' model of the European Statistical System (ESS) have been substituted with Eurostat assuming a more authoritative position and an increased use of regulations (and infraction proceedings where regulations are flouted). This shift is partly due to the increase in number of EU composite countries to 25 in 2004, a further increase to 27 in 2007 and most recently in 2010 to 28. It is also due to the turbulence caused by allegations of financial impropriety levelled at Eurostat senior management in 2003. It is the Commission's sole right to initiate a legislative proposal (through Eurostat) but the nature and remit of such proposals can be influenced by EU MS.
As one of the Directorates-General of the European Commission, Eurostat is headed by a Director General. With effect from 1 January 2012, the seven Directorates responsible for different sectors of Eurostat activities are organised as below:
Cooperation in the European Statistical System; international cooperation; resources
Corporate statistical and IT services
National accounts, prices and key indicators
Government finance statistics (GFS)
Sectoral and regional statistics
Global business statistics
The ESSC is regarded as the umbrella committee within the ESS. The ESSC has the overall responsibility within the ESS for endorsing the priorities of work, both the long and the short term. Moreover, it is the forum for discussions on strategies and future developments within the ESS.
Eurostat Five Year Work Programme (5YWP)
EU statistical requirements are defined by EU policy priorities. A statistical work programme (WP) is developed by Eurostat in consultation with other Commission Director Generals on a 5-yearly basis, with each five-year work programme setting out the framework of the key statistical priorities and developments for the term. MS can influence the content of such programmes which require endorsement by the European Council and Parliament. Underlying each 5YWP are detailed annual work programmes which are produced each year by Eurostat and endorsed by the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC).
Meeting European Requirements
Legislation spells out what data should be sent to Eurostat, in what form and by when. The electronic Datafiles and Management Information System (eDAMIS) is a secure point-to-point data transmission system which should be used by all institutions submitting data to Eurostat. ESSC was endorsed as the Single Data Entry(SEP) for all Eurostat data in 2010.
European statistical requirements are met from national budgets. It is common for extensive preparatory work to be conducted when examining the feasibility of new European statistical proposals, usually by a Task Force (TF). There is often a need to pilot work in MS in order to test feasibility or refine a proposal. In such instances Eurostat make funding available to MS for this purpose in the form of grants. Eurostat grants policy is to fund a proportion of the cost of an activity (up to 90 per cent) so there is a budgetary implication for undertaking the work. UK policy therefore is to only seek grants for work from which the UK will derive a domestic benefit in undertaking.
Other sources of EU funding are available for statistics. For research activities there is the European Framework Programme (FP) for research and development where funds are available for statistical research - usually bid for by consortia of ESS and/or academic bodies with a similar interest. There is also the Centres and Networks of Excellence (CENEX) initiative. CENEX are joint ventures between different partners in the ESS (NSIs involved contribute personnel and Eurostat contribute financial support in the form of grants). CENEX are designed to target specific statistical issues which require development. A recent example is the current CENEX on confidentiality which is helping to establish common standards of disclosure control.