What we do

Comparing apples with apples

Eurostat's main role is to process and publish comparable statistical information at European level. We try to arrive at a common statistical ‘language' that embraces concepts, methods, structures and technical standards.

Eurostat does not collect data. This is done in Member States by their statistical authorities. They verify and analyse national data and send them to Eurostat. Eurostat's role is to consolidate the data and ensure they are comparable, using harmonized methodology. Eurostat is actually the only provider of statistics at European level and the data we issue are harmonized as far as possible.

One example: for an accurate picture of EU unemployment it is important that unemployed people in Finland or Portugal are counted or measured in the same way as in Ireland or Germany. So Eurostat works with Member States to define common methodology on unemployment or asks Member States to include appropriate questions when gathering national data. These EU data are then sent to Eurostat so we can publish EU-wide unemployment data, which can then be used to compare unemployment rates between countries.

With the birth of the euro there is a need to measure the development of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The euro is the single currency for EMU and is compared with other currencies such as the dollar and yen. This has fuelled the harmonization of methodology between Member States. Just as there is one inflation rate and one GDP rate for the USA, Eurostat now publishes economic indicators for the whole euro-zone.

The bottom line is we try to provide you with data that are comparable because apples have to be compared with apples - not with pears…

Historical facts

1953 The Statistics Division for the Coal and Steel Community established.

1958 The European Community founded and the forerunner of Eurostat established.

1959 The present name of Eurostat as the Statistical Office of the European Communities adopted. First publication issued - on agricultural statistics.

1960 First Community Labour Force Survey.

1970 The European System of Integrated Economic Accounts (ESA) published and the general industrial classification of economic activities (NACE) established.

1974 First domain in the Cronos databank installed.

1988 European Commission adopts a document defining the first policy for statistical information.

1989 The Statistical Programme Committee established and the first programme (1989-1992) adopted by the Council as an instrument for implementing statistical information policy

1990 The Council adopts a directive on transmission of confidential data to Eurostat, previously an obstacle to Community statistical work.

1991 Eurostat's role extended as a result of the agreement on establishment of the European Economic Area and adoption of the Maastricht Treaty.

1992 Statistical Programme 1993-1997 adopted.

1993 The single market extends Eurostat's activities eg Intrastat established for statistics on intra-EU trade. Eurostat starts issuing regular news releases.

1994 First European household panel held, analysing income, employment, poverty, social exclusion, households, health etc.

1997 Statistics added for the first time to the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Statistical Law approved by the Council. Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices published for the first time - designed for EMU convergence criteria.

1998 The 11 countries in at the start of EMU (EUR-11) announced and Eurostat issues the first indicators specific to the EMU area. Statistical programme 1998-2002 adopted.

1999 Start of EMU, 1st January 2001 Greece joins to euro-zone,

2002 Start of the euro on 1st January, Eurostat supplies key statistics for monetary policy. Statistical programme 2003-2007 adopted.

2004 Start of free of charge dissemination of all statistical data except microdata for research purposes.

2005 Commission Recommendation on the independence, integrity and accountability of the national and Community statistical authorities (European Statistics Code of Practice)

2005 Start of a three year peer review exercise across the European Statistical System to check the compliance with the Code of Practice

2007 Statistical Programme 2008-2012 adopted 2008 European Statistical Governance Advisory Body established to provide an independent overview of the implementation of the Code of Practice in the ESS

2009 New European Regulation governing the statistical cooperation in the European Union was adopted. ESS Committee (ESSC) created, replacing the Statistical Programme Committee. Eurostat's ‘Vision' for modernisation of EU statistical production published

2011 European Statistics Code of Practice revised, strengthening the professional independence of European statisticians

2012 New Commission Decision regarding the role of Eurostat within European institutions

2013 The currently valid European Statistical Programme 2013-2017 adopted. European Statistical Forum established to govern the statistical cooperation between the ESS and ESCB. Start of the second round of peer reviews of ESS' compliance with the Code of Practice

2014 ‘ESS Vision 2020' adopted