This activity focused on the analysis on the ESSnet (collaborative ESS networks) programme. The programme was launched in 2005 as CENEX programme (Centres and Networks of Excellenge); the name was changed to ESSnet in 2007. According the SPC meeting in February 2007, “The ESSnet concept stems from the need to find synergies and harmonize and disseminate best practices in the European statistical system. The ESSnet actions shall serve the interests of the whole ESS and should be in line with the 5 year statistical programme”. During the programme, several ESSnet projects have been launched and currently, there are 13 completed projects, 18 running projects and 13 projects under planning or forecasted. The projects cover a broad area of topics of interest for the development of the ESS.
There has been discussion within the ESS on various aspects of the programme, including contents, coverage, organisation and funding of the projects and dissemination and implementation of project results. For example, at the 5th meeting of the European Statistical System Committee (20 May 2010), it was stated under the theme on “Report on ESSnet Projects 2009-2010 and ESSnet Plan 2011” as follows: “During the presentation of the second ESSnet plan for projects to be launched in 2009/2010 at the ESSC meeting of 14/5/2009, a number of opinions were expressed such as: the need for better information on ESSnet technical, administrative and financial procedures; better dissemination of ESSnet results; and finally the risk of fragmentation of topics and work”. The points expressed by the ESSC, for example the last point on the possible fragmentation of topics and work, are of special interest for the analysis.
Based on the analysis of the background documents and the overall ESSnet programme structure and functioning, the objective of the report is to identify the possible weaknesses of the programme and propose a number of remedies for future development of the programme.