Enlargement policy and the acquis in statistics

Article last updated: December 2018.

This article is part of a set of background articles which introduce the international statistical cooperation activities of the European Union (EU) with non-member countries and focuses on the EU acquis in statistics and the role of statistics in the accession negotiations which are underway with some candidate countries. The candidate countries, taken together with the potential candidates, are known as enlargement countries.

These negotiations concern the candidates’ ability to fulfil the obligations of EU membership. They focus on the conditions and the timing of the candidates’ adoption, implementation and application of EU rules, also known as the EU acquis. To facilitate negotiations, the entire body of EU laws is divided into chapters, each generally corresponding to a policy area. For candidate countries, this is essentially a matter of agreeing on how and when to adopt and implement the EU rules and procedures. For the EU, it is an important process as it allows European institutions to obtain guarantees on the date and the effectiveness of each candidate’s implementation plans.

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The EU acquis in the field of statistics

Before negotiations start, the screening of each chapter allows the European Commission and the candidate country to determine how well the candidate country is prepared. When negotiations on a chapter are opened, the European Commission monitors and reports (to the Council and the European Parliament) on the progress in applying EU legislation.

Official statistics are part of the EU acquis, and are contained in Chapter 18. Statistics also form a component of other chapters as they allow screening and monitoring of the progress toward accession criteria through annual country reports for the enlargement countries.

For the EU, the Statistical Law (Regulation 223/2009 of 11 March 2009 on European statistics) defines the basic conditions, procedures and general provisions governing official statistics as well as the division of responsibilities between national and EU statistical authorities. National statistical authorities are the national statistical offices, institutes, agencies or bureaux as well as other bodies in charge of producing and disseminating official statistics. The EU statistical authority is Eurostat.

Confidence in official statistics depends to a large extent on the respect of the widely accepted guidelines laid down in the European statistics Code of Practice. This code sets out 16 key principles for the production and dissemination of official statistics in the EU and the institutional environment under which national and EU statistical authorities operate. The code reflects the United NationsFundamental principles of official statistics and the United Nations’ Principles governing international statistical activities.

The EU acquis in the field of statistics requires the existence of a statistical infrastructure and includes the legal basis, methodologies and data requirements in different statistical domains; it is dynamic and changes over time. Therefore, the statistical systems of enlargement countries must be strengthened in order to maintain their level of harmonisation and to incorporate any changes in the EU acquis.

Statistical requirements compendium

The legal basis, methodologies and data requirements of the EU acquis are presented in the Statistical requirements compendium. It summarises the key reference information for European statistical production in all statistical domains, grouped, since 2017, by an adapted version of the Classification of statistical activities (CSA) Rev. 1.:

  1. demographic and social statistics;
  2. economic statistics;
  3. sectoral statistics;
  4. environment and multi-domain statistics;
  5. methodology of data collection, processing, dissemination and analysis.

It also includes the EU acquis related to basic legal acts.

Outcomes

The enlargement countries are expected to increase progressively their data collection activities and their transmission of statistics to the European statistical system (ESS) in the context of the EU accession process. Enlargement countries already provide a large volume of data on an annual basis which are disseminated through various channels:

These data are also used by the European Commission when preparing the statistical annexes for the annual country report on each enlargement country.

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Total population, Candidate countries and potential candidates (tgs00027)
Gross domestic product, Candidate countries and potential candidates (tgs00028)