This section provides information about Remote Access to European Statistics in the European Statistical System.
There are several ambitions in setting up a Remote Access System to official microdata in Europe. Two ESSnet projects are dealing with this topic.
To improve the access to European microdata for scientific purposes the ESSnet project “Decentralised and Remote Access to Confidential Data in the ESS” (DARA) was conducted.
The aim of the ESSnet-project DARA was to establish a secure channel from a Safe Centre within a National Statistical Institute (NSI) to the safe server at Eurostat so that researchers can use confidential EU microdata in their own Member States without travelling to Luxembourg. The ESSnet project DARA has developed a pilot infrastructure as an example for a European Remote Access infrastructure.
The basis was laid by the previous ESSnet project “Decentralised Access to EU microdata sets” which has finished in January 2010.
This feasibility study investigated various modes of access to EU microdata and one central result of this project was the recommendation to establish a network of Safe Centres in the National Statistical Institutes of the Member States, which are connected via Remote Access to Eurostat, where the data are stored on a secure server. The implementation of a pilot study had been proposed and was successfully carried out in the follow up project “Decentralised and Remote Access to Confidential Data in the ESS” (DARA).
A major task of the European Statistical System (ESS) is to provide EU institutions, Member States and the public with reliable information about the society, economy, environment and development in the European Union. Therefore it is necessary to collect, process and analyse statistical data of the Member States.
It is an elaborate procedure to harmonize the questionnaires, the preparation process and the data delivery of 28 Member States in the EU. It is necessary to achieve comparable information between Member States and useful aggregated values for the entire EU. In consequence of this, these data represent a precious and unique data source for the international research community. The full potential of these data is not exhausted with the publication of standardized aggregated tables. Furthermore there is a lot more analysis potential to model the European integration process, differences between Member States or best practice examples with multivariate and sophisticated evaluation.
The access to these confidential data can be provided for scientific purposes by sets of anonymised microdata or in the premises of Eurostat in the Safe Centre in Luxembourg. The anonymised microdata are a valuable source and their advantage is, that they can be used in the researchers own institutions. But for a lot of researchers the data sets are not detailed enough to conduct their analysis. They prefer to access the original microdata (without direct identifiers). By now there is only the one possibility for European researchers to travel to Eurostats Safe Centre in Luxembourg what means a heavy burden, caused by the local constraints.
The ESSnet project “Decentralised and Remote Access to Confidential Data in the ESS” (DARA) deals with the implementation of a remote access system from Safe Centres in the National Statistical Institutes (NSI) of the Member States (MS) to the EU statistics at Eurostat. The goal of the ESSnet DARA project is to provide the basis for a European microdata access system for scientific purposes. With such a kind of system researchers do not have to travel to Eurostat in Luxembourg anymore; they can access detailed confidential microdata from their own Member States via remote access connection whereas the microdata itself remain at a secure place.
An easier access to use European microdata could lead to new empirical findings and knowledge about the “European society” in economics, social sciences and environmental sciences. The experiences in several Member States show, that the infrastructure of microdata access will be heavily used, once it is established in a convenient way for researchers.
Those activities were accompanied by the revision of the regulation to access confidential data of the EU statistics for scientific purposes (EC) No. 831/2002. The new regulation was adopted and is in charge since July 2013 under the Commission regulation (EU) No. 557/2013. The new regulation shall ease the access to EU microdata from a legal point of view and shall lay the basis to a more decentralised access in Europe.
Brandt, Maurice (2012): “European Data Access Comes True”, Privacy in Statistical Databases 2012, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 7556, Palermo, pp 286-294.
Brandt, Maurice und Markus Zwick, (2011): Decentralised Access to Confidential Microdata in Europe, New Techniques and Technologies for Statistics, Brussels.
Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding. Based on a request from OECD Ministers of science and technology, who met in Paris in 2004, these were developed by the OECD’s Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy, and were endorsed by the OECD Council on 14 December 2006.
STS065 Future microdata access (ppt) - ISI 2011 - JM Museux