Process & principles


The European Statistical System (ESS) Vision 2020 identifies „efficient and robust statistical processes” as one of the five key areas to deliver the vision of the ESS. In this context, the Vision 2020 document highlights that

„we will improve our efficiency through systematic collaboration within the ESS, while fully respecting the subsidiarity principle. We will intensify our collaboration by further intensifying the sharing of knowledge, experiences and methodologies but also by sharing tools, data, services and resources where appropriate. The collaboration will be based on agreed standards and common elements of technological and statistical infrastructure”.

The ESS already uses a lot of tools in different forms enhancing collaboration across the ESS: statistical legislation, methodological handbooks, gentlemen’s agreements, code lists, etc. The implementation of the system envisaged by Vision 2020 should be based on a wide range or more precisely on a system of common tools, normative documents enabling common production, common use of integrated data and sharing common tools and infrastructure.

In this regard, the standardisation process at ESS level, connected to the Business Architecture model, is aimed at providing a framework for setting standards for the ESS in order to further enhance collaboration.

Standards result from standardisation processes that are built around the five principles of standardisation:

  • Consensus. Acceptance by consensus ensures that all views are heard and the resulting standard is generally agreed to. Consensus means a general agreement, characterised by the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests and by a process that involves seeking to take into account the views of all parties concerned and to reconcile any conflicting arguments. Consensus does not imply unanimity.
  • Transparency and openness. Involvement of all stakeholders ensures transparency of the process, provides advance public notice of a proposed standard and helps to promote usage of the forthcoming standard. 
  • Balance. Balance means that no one group’s interest dominates the approach. This implies that special attention should be paid to applicability in countries/institutions of different sizes and different levels of development and that different local context can be dealt with.
  • Due process. It ensures that anyone with a ‘direct and material interest’ has a right to express a position and to have that position considered (where necessary including the right to appeal). If a position is not adopted the reason should be well explained.
  • Proportionality. It means that the ESS standardisation processes must be lean. It should be applied in such a way that the cost of application is reasonable compared to the possible standardisation results that are envisaged. All standardisation activities are pertinent, but the effort put into any activity has to be proportional to the expected benefits.

As a result, standardisation in the ESS is aimed at realisation of efficiency gains and improvement of quality by the establishment of standards for the ESS, fully respecting the above listed principles.

Such a system does not exist in the ESS today. The term ’standard’ is meant to be a guarantee for the ESS members that the concerned normative documents have been set according to these principles. This goal asks for a procedure providing these guarantees. This process is the standardisation process.

For the description of the standardisation process, please, visit the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cros/content/standardisation-process