European statistics: New rules approved by Council

06 March 2015

The new rules are aimed at ensuring the quality and reliability of EU statistics. The Council approved its position by qualified majority. Austria and the United Kingdom voted against, whilst the Netherlands and Portugal abstained.

It approved its position at first reading, enabling the regulation to be adopted without further amendment. This follows an agreement in December 2014 with the European Parliament, which can now adopt the text at second reading.

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.

Professional independence

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, 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.

Full press release

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