European Statistical System (ESS)

Statistics Austria is member of the European Statistical System (ESS). The main aim of the ESS is to provide reliable and comparable statistics and to continuously improve the quality of official statistics, thus laying down a common numerical foundation for all decision-makers and for the general public on EU-level and in its member states. Hence, the ESS forms the basis for evidence-based decision-making in Europe and steadily gains in significance.

The ESS is comprised of the Community’s statistical authority, which is the Commission (Eurostat), the national statistical institutes (NSIs) and other national authorities, who are involved in the development, production and dissemination of European statistics in the EU member states. [Art. 4 of Regulation (EC) No 223/2009].

Like other NSIs, Statistics Austria serves as the focal point and sole point of contact on statistical matters for Eurostat on member state level. The majority of statistics produced by Statistics Austria are delivered as statistics of the ESS to Eurostat. 

The statistical office of the European Union Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission coordinating strategic measures at European Union level and within the European Commission. The framework for the production of European statistics is set by the European Statistical Programme for a period of five years. The Member States are responsible for the production of harmonized national statistics.

The Legal basis of the ESS is Regulation (EC) No. 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009. The Regulation contains the fundamental principles for compiling European statistics. The last major revision took place in 2015, while another revision is currently being prepared.

The European Statistics Code of Practice is the cornerstone of the common quality framework of the ESS. It is based on 16 principles covering the institutional environment, statistical processes and statistical outputs. To facilitate the application of the quality standards, the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) is providing guidelines, detailed methods and best practices. The compliance of NSIs with the Code of Practice is regularly reviewed in so-called Peer Reviews which are coordinated by Eurostat. The most recent peer review of Statistics Austria took place in April 2022. The results of the peer reviews are published by Eurostat and can be accessed here.

The ESS coordinates its work on EU level with other Commission bodies and agencies, the European Central Bank and across EU borders with international organisations such as the UN, the OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The aim is the worldwide harmonization and further development of statistics.

The work of the ESS is organized in different governance bodies on three levels.

Strategic issues are dealt with at the level of Presidents and Directors General in the following governance bodies:

  • European Statistical System Committee (ESSC):
    The ESSC is the most important body of the ESS consisting of the Presidents and Directors General of the National Statistical Institutes of the ESS member states. The ESSC meets three times a year under the chairmanship of Eurostat and is involved, among other things, in the preparation of statistical legal acts by the European Commission. Furthermore, the committee comments on annual and multi-annual statistical programs and discusses strategic issues. In the ESSC, Statistics Austria is represented by the Director General Tobias Thomas.
  • ESS - Partnership Group (PG): The PG supports the ESSC in relation to strategic issues, identifies topics of strategic relevance and prepares discussions for the ESSC.
    Currently, the PG consists of eight Presidents and Directors General of NSIs plus Eurostat. Meetings take place three times a year. Director General  Tobias Thomas was elected to the PG for the functional period 2022-2024.
  • DGINS (Directeurs Généraux des Instituts Nationaux Statistiques): The DGINS serves as an annual forum at the level of Presidents and Directors General for discussions of strategic issues and current developments in the ESS.

The ESSC is provided with strategic advice by two further committees, ESGAB and ESAC:

The ESS and the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) coordinate common topics i.a. in the context of the ESF:

  • ESF (European Statistical Forum): This committee serves the strategic guidance in the cooperation between the ESS and the European System of Central Banks (ESCB).

On the level of directors group, issues relating to all statistics fields are dealt with by following bodies:

  • BSDG: Business Statistics Directors’ Group
  • DMES: Directors of Macro-economic Statistics
  • DIMESA: Directors of Sectoral and Environmental Statistics and Accounts
  • DSS: Directors of Social Statistics

In addition, there are numerous working and expert groups on various topics at different levels.