Archive:Business registers

This Statistics Explained article is outdated and has been archived - for updated information please see the dynamic version of the European Business Statistics Manual at: European Business Statistics Manual A static full version of the European Business Statistics Manual was published in February 2021: European Business Statistics Manual — 2021 edition

This article outlines the scope and uses of statistical business registers in the European Union (EU). These are regularly updated databases of statistical units relevant to business statistics. Each EU Member State manages its own national register. Eurostat, with input from the EU Member States and EFTA countries, manages the EuroGroups register. Eurostat does not publish national business register data or EGR microdata for the ESS members.

This article is part of the online European Business Statistics Manual, a comprehensive guide to European Business Statistics methodologies and how business statistics are compiled.

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Population and records

Business registers (BR) contain information on the population of the following types of statistical units:

  • enterprises performing economic activities that contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP);
  • their local units;
  • the legal units that make up such enterprises;
  • their KAUs — only for those enterprises which due to their size have a significant influence and whose KAUs have a significant influence on aggregated, national data (either the KAU or the secondary activities of the enterprise);
  • enterprise groups.

Recorded variables

The variables of the statistical units that are recorded in the business registers include:

  • identification variables: identity number, name, address;
  • demographic variables: date of commencement/cessation of the unit's activity;
  • economic/stratification variables: economic activity (NACE), employment, turnover, institutional sector, legal form;
  • information on control and ownership relations: parent/subsidiary legal unit, minority shareholder information, country of global decision centre;
  • links to other registers.

Not all of these variables are recorded for each type of statistical unit. For more information on the variables, see the EBS methodological manual for statistical business registers - 2021 edition.

Use of national statistical business registers

National statistical business registers are kept up-to-date by the EU Member States or EFTA countries to which they belong. New units, cessations and all substantial changes in the population concerned are registered regularly. National statistical business registers serve to:

  • establish links with administrative data sources;
  • identify and construct statistical units;
  • prepare and coordinate business surveys, for which purpose they periodically provide population frames (at monthly or yearly intervals, for example);
  • provide information for statistical analysis of the business population and its demography;
  • facilitate micro-data linking activities.


Statistical business registers play a central role in the production of business statistics, both in terms of the way the statistics are produced and in terms of the content and quality of the statistics produced. The availability of statistical business registers is key for statisticians in the compilation of consistent and comparable business statistics.

Statistical business registers are essential for establishing efficient statistical survey frames. A high-quality statistical business register helps make the national statistical system more efficient and helps reduce the reporting burden on businesses.

Together, Eurostat and the EU Member States are constantly improving the national statistical business registers and the EGR. The continuous development of statistical business registers has been supported across the ESS by the European system of interoperable business registers (ESBRs) project. Its aim has been to move on from disconnected, stand-alone national registers to an efficient European system of interoperable statistical business registers.

The ESS.VIP.BUS.ESBRs project on the European system of interoperable statistical business registers started in January 2013 on the basis of the ESSC’s approval of the ESBRs ex-ante evaluation report (November 2012). It was successfully closed in June 2020 with the unanimous approval of the ESBRs project end-report (registered access) by the BSDG. The project was based on the inputs of the MEETS programme (2009-2013) and in particular the work of ESSnet on concepts and methods with respect to shortcomings and inconsistencies in EBS. It successfully covered the 14 distinct success criteria outlined in the business case, including methodological developments (see for example the ESBRs business architecture, the ESBRs interoperability framework, integration between the EGR and profiling), technical and information technology (IT) developments (see for example EGR developments, or interactive profiling tool (IPT) developments), quality (see for example the data quality programme for national registers and the EGR), operations (see for example collaborative profiling of multinational enterprise groups by EU Member States, ESBR interoperability pilots carried out by EU Member States) and design (see for example the ESBRs statistical services). Following guidance from governance bodies during the course of the project, additional distinct deliverables were also developed in the area of governance (see for example the ESBRs interoperability framework implementation plan and the ESBRs organisational model). The deliverables for the project are accessible on the ESBRs wiki (registered access). The ESBRs project addressed the objectives of the business case (and beyond), as it developed globalised approaches common for all EU Member States such as the ESBRs business architecture, the ESBRs interoperability framework, European profiling methodology and the data quality programme. It also developed common tools and remote access facilities to avoid the duplication of work, such as the four EGR applications and the IPT. Finally, the project tested these ideas in practice during the interoperability pilots and most importantly during five successful annual production cycles for the EGR and four successful annual cycles for the IPT. Business implementation activities have been planned for the EU Member States and Eurostat during the period 2020-2025 in order to make good use of the project’s outputs. In terms of follow-up activities, the testing of the ESBRs organisational model, the implementation of the European profiling programme and the implementation of several of the (more than 50) follow-up recommendations and small projects are the basis for actions in the coming years.

In 2016, Eurostat and the EU countries launched a data quality programme (DQP) for statistical business registers designed to improve continuously the quality of national statistical business registers and the EGR. The programme’s components were gradually implemented with a first full DQP cycle being carried out in 2017, which was further fine-tuned for subsequent cycles. The programme monitors existing data quality of registers (‘as is’ state) and defines quality criteria (‘to be’ state). The DQP currently monitors eight compliance and five extended quality targets that drive constant improvements in statistical business registers. Additional recommendations that complement the EBS methodological manual for statistical business registers - 2021 edition are regularly drawn up with a view to improve constantly the quality of statistical business registers and in particular to increase harmonisation, comparability and the promotion of best practices. Furthermore, Eurostat regularly conducts user surveys for statistical business registers in order to address user needs and to improve quality.

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External links

  • Eurostat has released a publication on the results of the European system of interoperable statistical business registers project: End-report for the ESBR project (registered access)

All revised manuals concerning EBS will be made available as part of a dedicated section on Eurostat’s website (RAMON — reference and management of nomenclatures).