Consistency (MBGA1)

Coordinator: Giuseppe Garofalo
Italian National Institute of Statistics - ISTAT

 The use of common statistical units and the definitions of statistical units is a prerequisite for further integration of the production of statistics within the ESS. Not all statistics are based on the Council Regulation (EEC) No 696/93 on the statistical units for the observation and analysis of the production system in the Community[1](Statistical Unit Regulation).Some statistical units are defined in other regulations and some are even not defined in any legal act.

The main inconsistency can be seen in the different statistical units on which closely related projects rely. For example, Short-Term Statistics (STS) are based on Kind-of-Activity-Unit (KAU) in industry and construction whereas in retail trade and other services they are based on enterprises. In particular when administrative data is to be used for the compilation it will be difficult to avoid double counting and overlapping such as in the case of manufacturing activities carried out in separate KAU by enterprises classified outside industry and construction.

The use of different statistical units is often justified by the scope of diverse statistics and their legal frameworks, e.g. Structural Business Statistics (SBS) uses the enterprise, STS KAU and National Accounts local KAU (LKAU). On the other hand, this makes, for example, the comparison between monthly and quarterly data (STS) and annual SBS data difficult for users.

As business statistics are also used as a basis for National Accounts, it is important that there is consistent information which can be used. Business statistics provide manifold information on the enterprise level which can be used for National Accounts, but almost no basic information is available for the local KAU.

Registers for statistical purposes are of vital importance for the compilation of business-related statistics and they play an important role to achieve more consistency, e.g. by the identification and construction of statistical units or the documentation of the links between the units. Not all statistical units distinguished in the Statistical Unit Regulation and which are used in business-related statistics have to be included in the Business Register for statistical purposes[2], in particular the KAU used in SBS and STS nor the local KAU used in National Accounts. 

A lack of consistency with respect to the underlying statistical units will have more serious consequences. The definition of the scope of a statistical project and the classifications by activity and by size classes are dependent on the choice of a statistical unit. The use of administrative data based on somewhat different statistical units than the units as laid down in the legal act will constrain the comparability between statistical results from different statistical projects even if they are (seemingly) based on the same statistical unit and on the same classifications.

There is an additional need for revising the Statistical Unit Regulation and the statistical units used due to changes e.g. in the globalisation process. It should also be noted that there is work going on in the ESSnet "profiling on enterprise groups" as regards the definition of "enterprise group" or other new statistical units in this area.

2. Main objectives

a. Inventory of implementation of the definitions of statistical units in Member States.

This objective should cover the way Member States interpret in practice the definitions for statistical units in the overall system of business and trade-related  statistics. Furthermore, a comparison of the legal units in the Member States, as defined in national legislation, have to be analysed. To achieve this objective all documentation available will be acquired and studied, workshops with Eurostat and MS' experts will be organised and direct information will be acquired through a questionnaire sent to the MS.

b. Identification and evaluation of inconsistencies

The achievement of this objective will be based on the inventory activities and on other studies analysis already done (as the "External Study on Detail Evaluation of the Legal Acts in the Areas of Statistics which were identified by Member States as Areas to Revision"). Even though the identification and evaluation will be assessed within the overall system of business and trade-related statistics and for National Accounts and Balance of Payments Statistics, their effects will be in depth analysed for the areas of major inconsistencies.
The objective will be achieved for the first two of the three main typologies of inconsistency previously identified:
1. Identification and evaluation of inconsistency in statistical units applied in different statistical domains.
2. Identification and evaluation of inconsistency in the application of the statistical units' definitions in different MS.

c. Proposals of necessary adjustments

Based on the results of the identification and evaluation phase, proposals should be elaborated taking into account a number of constraints, in particular the cost of change, the interactions between the issues, the time frame, the expected increase in consistency.
The final goal of the WP1 is the development of recommendations for the revision of the Statistical Unit Regulation. The review should be based on the identification of statistical units that may be "theoretically" correct from a conceptual point of view and also realistically applicable in the economic realities of European countries.

Main milestones:

  • Kick-Off meeting: January/February 2011 - Launching of the WP1 activities; First discussion on direction report; Preparatory meeting for the 1st Workshop;
  • 1st Workshop 2: February/ March 2011 - Acquisition of knowledge from Eurostat experts; Finalisation of the direction report; Preparatory meeting for the 2nd Workshop;
  • 2nd Workshop: March/April 2011 -  Acquisition of the knowledge from MS experts in different statistical domains; Approval of Deliverable 1.1.; First discussion on inquiry; First discussion on inventory of available information;
  • 4th Coordination meeting: June/July 2011 -  Finalisation of the questionnaire; Organisation of the test; Preparatory meeting for the 3rd workshop;
  • 3rd Workshop:September/October 2011 - Dissemination of the work done; Presentation and discussion of questionnaire; Approval of Deliverable 2.4; Discussion on the progress of the action 2; First discussion on action 3 and 4
  • 6th Coordination meeting: November/December 2011 - Approval of the draft of the intermediate report; Approval of Del. 2.3; Discussion on the progress of the action 2, 3 and 4;
  • 7th Coordination meeting:January/February 2012 - Approval of Del. 2.6; Approval of Del. 2.7; Approval of Del. 3.2; Discussion on final report of the action 2; Discussion on the progress of the action 3 and 4;
  • 8th Coordination meeting: March/April 2012 - Approval of Del. 3.1; Approval of Del. 3.3; Approval of Del. 4.2; Discussion on finalisation of the action 3 and 4; First discussion on action 5; Preparatory meeting for the 4th Workshop;
  • 4th Workshop:June/July 2012 - Presentation and discussion on the results achieved by the action 2,3 and 4; Discussion on proposals for adjustments; Approval of Del. 4.1; Approval of Del. 4.4; Discussion on action 5;
  • 10th Coordination meeting: September 2012 - Preparatory meeting for the 5th WS; Approval of Del 5.2; Discussion on finalisation of action 5;
  • 5th Workshop:October/November 2012 - Presentation and discussion on proposals for adjustments; Discussion on finalisation of action 5;
  • 12th Coordination meeting:December 2012 - Approval of Del. 5.1; Approval of Del. 5.3; Approval of Del. 5.5; Approval of the draft of Final Report.


[1]OJ L 76, 30.3.1993, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation(EC) No 1882/2003

[2]Regulation (EC) No 177/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 establishing a common framework for business registers for statistical purposes and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 2186/93. OJ L 61, 5.3.2008, p. 6-16