Peer reviews - Quality

European Statistics System peer reviews

Icon peer reviews

There is an ocean of information, facts and statistics out there. But how can you be sure this information is accurate, the facts are not fake and the statistics have not been manipulated?

Don’t worry: We at Eurostat can help you!

Our mission is to offer you “high-quality statistics and data on Europe”. We provide you with free access to data that are reliable, trustworthy and comparable.

But how do you know that we really live up to fulfilling our mission and that our data are of high quality? What do we do so that you can trust us and our statistics?

Eurostat and the national statistical authorities of all the EU Member States and EFTA countries form a partnership called the European Statistical System (ESS). Together we produce European statistics, which respect a common quality framework. One instrument to ensure the implementation of the common quality framework and thus the quality of European statistics are the so-called ESS peer reviews.

Curious to know more about the peer reviews? Then browse through the most common FAQs below.

What are the ESS peer reviews and how do they ensure the quality of European statistics?

Quality is the trademark of European statistics and makes them more trustworthy than other data that are readily available through a multitude of channels. To guarantee the quality of their statistics, the ESS created a common quality framework. The European Statistics Code of Practice (the Code or CoP) is the cornerstone of this quality framework.

The objective of the peer reviews is to assess the compliance of the members of the ESS with the principles and indicators of the Code. The subsequent recommendations should also help statistical authorities to further improve and develop their statistical systems.

Illustration on peer reviews

What is the European Statistics Code of Practice?

The common quality framework of the ESS is based on the European Statistics Code of Practice, a set of 16 principles covering the institutional environment, statistical processes and statistical outputs.

The principles are complemented with a set of 84 indicators of best practices and standards to provide guidance and reference for reviewing the implementation of the Code. For example, Principle 1 on professional independence sets down, that European statistics should be produced in an impartial and independent manner, free from any political and other external influence.

If you are interested, please click here to read more about the 16 principles and 84 indicators of the Code and also see our infographics. 

Infographics Code of Practice

Is this the first time peer reviews are taking place?

Two previous rounds of peer reviews were carried out in 2006-2008 and 2013-2015. They provided valuable knowledge that has been built into this new round to improve the process itself.

Who participates in the peer reviews?

All members of the ESS are reviewed, i.e. Eurostat and the national statistical authorities of the EU Member States and EFTA countries.

Peer review expert teams are composed of four European experts in statistics, auditing, governance issues, among them an independent expert, to assess national statistical authorities, while an expert team from the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) reviews Eurostat.

How are the peer reviews conducted?

The peer reviews are carried out on a country-by-country basis according to these steps:

  1. Each national statistical authority of the ESS assesses itself against the principles of the Code in a self-assessment questionnaire and provides extensive documentation on its functioning.
  2. These documents are checked and analysed by an expert team, which subsequently carries out an in-country visit during which a more in-depth review is performed.
  3. The expert team compiles a final report with recommendations for improvement.
  4. This report is submitted to the national statistical authority for approval and drafting improvement actions.

The implementation of the improvement actions in the EU Member States and EFTA countries is monitored on an annual basis by Eurostat. The implementation of the improvement actions for Eurostat is monitored by ESGAB.

This illustration provides an overview again of all steps outlined above:

Illustration on peer reviews © European Union

What should be achieved with the peer reviews?

In the past rounds of peer reviews, the reviews focused mainly on compliance with the European Statistics Code of Practice.

This round of peer reviews will go a step further and additionally help ESS partners to improve by making future-oriented recommendations that go beyond the current Code. In addition, future-oriented elements in this round of ESS peer reviews could result in a revision of the Code to reflect the new phenomena and developments that the peer review experts will identify in this round.

If you are interested to know more about ESS peer reviews 2021-2023, please visit our dedicated webpage.

What is the role of ESGAB?

Summary information of this monitoring is provided to the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) for its annual report to the European Parliament and the Council.

ESGAB, an independent Advisory Board, carries out the peer review of Eurostat and reports on the implementation of the Code of Practice by Eurostat but also includes an assessment of the implementation of the Code of Practice in the ESS as a whole.

It also advises on appropriate measures to facilitate the Code’s implementation, on its communication and its possible updates. The ESGAB annual reports, starting with 2009, are accessible on its dedicated webpage.

Watch our short animation explaining the peer reviews