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What is the European Statistical System and how it works

The European Statistical System (ESS) is the partnership between Eurostat (the statistical authority of the European Union) and the national statistical authorities of the 28 Member States (MS). The national statistical authorities comprise the National Statistical Institutes (NSIs) and other national authorities responsible for the development, production and dissemination of European statistics. The NSI in each MS has the responsibility for coordinating all activities at national level for the development, production and dissemination and acts as the contact point for the Commission (Eurostat) on statistical matters.
The Portuguese statistical authorities are defined by Law (Law 22/2008, of the National Statistical System).
European statistics are legally supported by the Regulation (EC) nº 223/2009, of the European Parliament and of the Council. According to this Regulation, the development, production and dissemination of European statistics shall be governed by some statistical principles, with relevance for the principles of professional independence, objectivity, impartiality, reliability and statistical confidentiality.
Regulation 223/2009, as amended by Regulation 2015/759 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 29 April, reinforces amongst others the provisions on the professional independence and the coordination role of NSIs, as well as the right of access to administrative records for statistical purposes, in order to consolidate the governance of the ESS.
These statistical principles foreseen in Regulation 223/2009 are further developed in the European Statistics Code of Practice, applied by all the ESS members in order to guarantee the quality of the European statistics, as well as the users´confidence on European statistics.
The European Statistical Governance Advisory Body (ESGAB), set up by the Decision 235/2008/EC, is an independent body responsible for the overview of the implementation of the Code of Practice in the ESS as a whole and by Eurostat itself. The ESGAB’s annual reports to the European Parliament and to the Council are made public.
The ESS has a five-year statistical programme - the European Statistical Programme -, approved by the European Parliament and the Council, which defines the broad areas and objectives for the development, production and dissemination of European Statistics. The current programme covers the period 2013-2017.
Member States are involved in the preparation of the five-year programmes, namely at the European Statistical System Committee composed by the heads of the National Statistical Institutes. The ESSC provides professional guidance for developing, producing and disseminating European statistics.
In the preparation of the five-year programmes the Commission (Eurostat) also hears the users, respondents and other stakeholders of European statistics, through the consultation of the European Statistical Advisory Committee(ESAC). This Committee, set up by the Decision 234/2008/EC has an important role in ensuring that the users requirements and the costs for the producers and providers of statistical information are duly taken into account in the preparation of the European Statistical Programme.
The five-year programmes are often implemented by statistical operations defined in legal acts passed by the Council and the European Parliament. The objective is to ensure that Member States produce harmonised European statistics and to allow Eurostat to collect, analyse and aggregate the data from Member States and to offer the public with comparable and high-quality European statistical information, needed for the definition and monitoring of the Union policies and objectives.
The members of the ESS further cooperate in the development of projects aiming at the improvement of the efficiency and quality of European statistics, whilst reducing the burden on respondents. For that purpose, collaborative networks are established among members of the ESS regarding the development of the expertise in specific fields. The results of such projects are shared for the benefit of the ESS as a whole.
The European System of Central Banks (ESCB) plays also an important role in the development, production and dissemination of the European statistics necessary for the fulfilment of its tasks, as established by the Council Regulation nº 2533/98, concerning the collection of statistical information by the European Central Bank.
The ESS and the ESCB work closely in order to guarantee the coherence of the European Statistics produced by both systems and to minimise the burden on producers and providers of statistical information.
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