The European Statistics Code of Practice was adopted by the Statistical Programme Committee (SPC) of the European Union in February 2005, and its adoption was advised to Member States by the European Commission.
The Code of Practice is a self-regulatory instrument whose main purpose is to improve trust and confidence in official statistics produced and disseminated by the statistical authorities of Member States, Candidate Countries, EFTA Members and Eurostat, reinforcing their independence, integrity and responsibility and to enhance the quality of European Statistics.
The Code of Practice comprises fifteen principles organized into three main groups: Institutional Environment, Statistical Processes and Statistical Output.
In order to further foster confidence the European Parliament and the Council have established the “European Statistics Governance Advisory Body”, which will contribute to ensure quality in statistics, both at National and European level, in fully alignment with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
The Code of Practice was adopted by Statistics Portugal and it is reflected in its values. Statistics Portugal is committed to promote its adoption and implementation by the other national entities intervening in the production of National Statistics, and also amongst respondents and users (policy-makers, public in general as well as researchers, media and students).
The first revision of the Code of Practice was conducted in 2011, and adopted in September by the European Statistical System Committee. The 15 principles remain broadly unchanged although aspects related to quality management and to professional independence have been strengthened and the coverage of administrative data has been improved. The separate 2001 Quality Declaration has been updated and incorporated into the preamble to the Code of Practice in order to provide a single and integrated document. Four existing indicators have been deleted and nine new indicators have been created including:
- Rules for appointing and dismissing the head of an NSI;
- Quality policy and management;
- Advance notice of major revisions;
- Use of administrative data sources;
- Linking data;
The Principles of the Code of Practice together with the quality declaration provide the quality framework of the European Statistical System, a crucial instrument to ensure trust and credibility in European statistics.
The implementation of the European Statistics Code of Practice
With the adoption of the European Statistics Code of Practice, the Statistical Programme Committee (SPC) committed itself to adhering to its principles. At its meeting on 25 May 2005, the SPC endorsed a stepwise monitoring procedure for the implementation of the Code over three years during which countries’ self-assessments should be combined with elements of peer review, benchmarking and monitoring on the basis of the explanatory indicators added to each principle of the Code of Practice.
The Peer Reviews, being a process of external assessment on the implementation of the Code of Practice, aimed at transparency of the review process and the responsibility of those involved.
The Peer Review process occurred as planned, and its results are summarized in a report submitted to the SPC in 2008.
Peer Reviews on the implementation of the European Statistics Code of Practice
The Code of Practice Peer Reviews focused on seven of the fifteen principles of the Code: (1) Professional independence, (2) Mandate for data collection, (3) Adequacy of resources, (4) Quality commitment, (5) Statistical confidentiality, (6) Impartiality and Objectivity and (15) Accessibility and Clarity.
The Peer Reviews were implemented using as a starting point the self-assessment exercises undertaken by the National Statistical Institutes in 2005, and also comprised the identification of best practices at European Statistical System level, the recommendation of improvement actions, the analysis of the National Statistical Systems and their coordination, as a role to be exercised by the National Statistical Institutes.
The results of Peer Reviews are summarized in reports on Member-State and Eurostat, assessing compliance against the seven principles under evaluation and describing their implementation according to the Code of Practice.
The Peer Reviews were all undertaken on a three days visit on-site, yield by three experts of the National Statistical System: two from Member States National Statistical Institutes and a third representing EUROSTAT.
The Peer Review to Statistics Portugal
The Peer Review to Statistics Portugal occurred on the 16th, 17th and 18th of January 2008 and was conducted by the European experts Joe Treacy (Statistics Ireland), Werner Holzer (Statistics Austria) and Pedro Diaz Munoz (EUROSTAT).
During the Peer Review the following internal and external stakeholders were involved: Statistics Portugal staff from different areas and responsibilities, other entities that intervene in the production of official statistics, the Bank of Portugal, the Statistical Council, users and respondents of statistical information. The Peer Review was also centred on the functioning of both the National Statistical System and the Statistical Council, as well as on Statistics Portugal coordination role of the System. In the closing meeting Statistics Portugal Board and Managers from different areas analysed the recommendations proposed by the Peer Review, which allowed the identification of improvement actions to be implemented by Principle of the Code of Practice.
Statistics Portugal has faced this exercise as an opportunity to reflect upon its performance against the principles of the European Statistics Code of Practice and to draw additional measures to undertake in order to further ensure adherence to the Code. The Peer Review report recommendations were well received by Statistics Portugal and were recognised as important improvement opportunities to be developed in several areas (also beyond Statistics Portugal and at National Statistical System level), whose implementation is being gradually put in place.