During the Palermo meeting in September 2002, the DGINS (Directors General of NSI) expressed the need to find synergies, harmonization and dissemination of best practices in the European Statistical System (ESS).
They proposed to create an adequate instrument: the Centres and Networks of Excellence (Cenex, now called ESSnet) projects, for putting together expertise distributed throughout the ESS organisations in order to develop specific actions which would benefit the whole system.
An ESSnet project is:"A network of several ESS organisations aimed at providing results that will be beneficial to the whole ESS".
The ESSnet actions shall serve the interests of the whole ESS and should be in line with the 5 year statistical programme as being financed partly by Eurostat. Their objective is to take advantage of the synergies from cooperation of some Member States in order to share expertise and to save costs in solving common problems of European interest. The transfer of results and of knowledge to non participating partners for the benefit of the entire ESS is an essential characteristic of ESSnet projects.