Belgian statistical institutions subject to European audit
From 6 to 10 December 2021, a European audit, or peer review, will take place in Belgium in various institutions that produce European statistics. This concerns Statbel, the Flemish Statistical Authority, the National Accounts Institute, the FPS Home Affairs and the Directorate General Energy of the FPS Economy. European statistics are produced according to international standards and principles. A group of independent experts, the peer review team, examines these principles. This will lead to recommendations, which will be made public in the spring 2022.
In the ocean of information, facts and statistics, public statistical institutions aim to provide everyone with access to statistics and data on Europe that are of high quality, reliable, comparable and credible.
But how do you know that we really live up to fulfilling our mission and that our data are of high quality? What do we do so that you can trust us and our statistics?
Eurostat, the national statistical offices and the other national authorities (ONAs) of all the Member States of the European Union and European Free Trade Association (EFTA countries) form a partnership called the European Statistical System (ESS). Together they produce European statistics, which respect a common quality framework. One instrument to ensure the implementation of the common quality framework and thus the quality of European statistics are the so-called ESS peer reviews.
Curious to know more about the peer reviews? Then browse through the most common FAQs below.
What are the ESS peer reviews and how do they ensure the quality of European statistics?
Quality is the trademark of European statistics. To guarantee the quality of their statistics, the ESS created a common quality framework. The European Statistics Code of Practice (the Code or CoP) is the cornerstone of this quality framework.
The objective of the peer reviews is to assess the compliance of the members of the ESS with the principles and indicators of the Code. The subsequent recommendations should also help statistical authorities to further improve and develop their statistical systems.
What is the European Statistics Code of Practice?
The common quality framework of the ESS is based on the European Statistics Code of Practice, a set of 16 principles covering the institutional environment, statistical processes and statistical outputs.
The principles are complemented with a set of 84 indicators of best practices and standards to provide guidance and reference for reviewing the implementation of the Code. For example, Principle 1 on professional independence sets down, that European statistics should be produced in an impartial and independent manner, free from any political and other external influence.
More info about the 16 principles and 84 indicators of the Code.
Is this the first time peer reviews are taking place?
Two previous rounds of peer reviews were carried out in 2006-2008 and 2013-2015, also in Belgium. They provided valuable knowledge that has been built into this new round to improve the process itself.
Who participates in the peer reviews?
All members of the ESS are reviewed, i.e. Eurostat, the national statistical authorities and several other national authorities of the EU Member States and EFTA countries.
For this round, it was decided to pay special attention to the Other National Authorities (ONAs). Therefore, the National Accounts Institute (NAI), the the Flemish Statistical Authority, the FPS Home Affairs and the Directorate General Energy of the FPS Economy will be audited. In addition to these four ONAs, Statbel, in its capacity as ‘National Statistical Institute’ (NSI), will of course also be subject to this peer review.
The expert teams for the peer review of the national statistical authorities and ONAs are composed of four European experts in statistics, auditing and governance issues An expert team from the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) reviews Eurostat.
How are the peer reviews conducted?
The peer reviews are carried out on a country-by-country basis according to these steps:
1. Each national and other statistical authority of the ESS assesses itself against the principles of the Code in a self-assessment questionnaire and provides extensive documentation on its functioning.
2. These documents are checked and analysed by an expert team, which subsequently carries out an in-country visit during which a more in-depth review is performed.
3. The expert team compiles a final report with recommendations for improvement.
4. This report is submitted to the national and other statistical authorities for approval and drafting improvement actions.
Eurostat monitors every year the implementation of the improvement actions in the EU Member States and EFTA countries. The ESGAB ensures that Eurostat implements its improvement actions.
What is the purpose of the peer reviews?
In the past rounds of peer reviews, the reviews focused mainly on compliance with the European Statistics Code of Practice.
This round of peer reviews will go a step further and additionally help partners of the European Statistical System (ESS) to improve by making future-oriented recommendations that go beyond the current Code. In addition, future-oriented elements in this round of ESS peer reviews could result in a revision of the Code to reflect the new phenomena and developments that the peer review experts identify in this round.
More information about ESS peer reviews 2021-2023 is available on Eurostat’s website.