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Better social statistics for a social Europe

On 24 August 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on new, integrated ways to collect and use data from social surveys so as to better support policy making in general and social policy in particular.

Statistics are no longer considered as just one of many sources of information for policy-making purposes, but instead play a central role in the decision-making process. Evidence-based decision-making requires statistics that meet high-quality criteria…

The European Statistical System (ESS) produces the statistical data used to assess Member States’ performance in the context of the European semester, to monitor the key targets of Europe 2020, to implement many Commission evaluation frameworks on employment and social developments, and to pave the way for a future strategic vision for Europe beyond Europe 2020. Additionally, the Union's political priorities require good analytical and monitoring tools in the fields of jobs, growth and investment, the digital single market, a deeper and fairer European Monetary Union (EMU), migration, internal market, energy union and climate.

Social statistics are covering a wide range of domains (demography, employment, income and consumption, well-being and quality of life, education, health etc.) and they are taken from a variety of sources (data on persons and households collected at individual level from samples, population censuses, aggregated administrative data and data from businesses). All these aspects are being analysed in a consistent manner under the modernisation programme for social statistics. The current proposed framework Regulation is an important step forward in the modernisation of social statistics notably in terms of social survey data.

European statistics relating to persons and households are currently collected on the basis of a number of legislative acts covering surveys on persons and households, demographic statistics, population and housing censuses and statistics mainly collected from administrative sources. Some data are also gathered from business surveys. Despite significant improvements in recent years there is a need to further integrate the collection of statistics based on surveys conducted on persons and households.

Seven household surveys are targeted with this framework Regulation: the Labour Force Survey (LFS), European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), the Adult Education Survey (AES), the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), the Survey on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) usage in households (ICT-HH), the Household Budget Survey (HBS) and the Harmonised European Time Use Survey (HETUS).

The ESS is increasingly confronted with a growing need for statistical information for analysis, research and policy-making. Furthermore, statistical data should continue to meet the high quality standards of official statistics, including timeliness.

It is becoming increasingly necessary for statistics to be reliable, timely and of high quality in order for policymakers, businesses and the general public to be able to take appropriate, evidence-based decisions. Providing statistics of this quality is, however, challenging for the ESS: the ever-increasing demand for data and the demand from respondents to statistical surveys to reduce the burden all combine to put pressure on the production of statistics.

The proposed framework Regulation will allow data to be published faster, as it reduces the transmission deadlines in a number of areas. It will also increase the comparability and coherence of EU social statistics, by bringing together seven existing household surveys that are currently carried out in the EU and harmonising variables that are common to two or more surveys. This will, in addition, facilitate joint analysis of social phenomena, based on new survey methods. Finally, we will a richer and broader data set at our disposal, thanks to the use of innovative approaches and methods by national statistical authorities and the combination of data from several sources. 

It should also be noted that this initiative will reduce the costs for Member States involved in carrying out sample surveys and the burden on EU residents responding to them.

In order to better streamline and rationalise the reference framework for European social statistics collected from samples, existing European statistics on persons and households based on data at individual level should be brought together under one framework. This would guarantee that European social statistics collected from samples including the domains of labour market, income and living conditions, health, education and training and use of information and communication technologies would be undertaken in a consistent, coherent and coordinated way.

The proposed Regulation sets up a framework for European statistics relating to persons and households based on data at individual level collected from samples. It specifies the data and information to be collected and submitted by Member States, and includes the fundamental quality requirements to be met by the data. It provides for more detailed technical specifications to be given in delegated acts and implementing measures. It allows the various data collections to be integrated with one another and with the use of administrative data, while consolidating and simplifying existing legislation.

This initiative is part of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) and aims to streamline the European social statistics collected from samples and to make the data collection process more efficient and the statistical output more relevant. The proposed Regulation should guarantee the comparability and coherence of the data in the long run. The system of European social surveys should be sufficiently robust and efficient, and should ensure that the high quality of statistics is maintained — which can be challenging given the continual change in this area of statistics: rapid innovation in methodologies and uses of IT, the availability of new data sources, changing needs and expectations of data users and continued pressure on available resources.

See: Proposal for a Regulation …establishing a common framework for European statistics relating to persons and households

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Mimi Kavaki (Florence / Italie) - 12 September 2016

Depuis 2009 la politique sociale va à la dérive tant au niveau des États membres que de l’Union et je ne crois pas que les meilleures statistiques vont redresser la situation. Il faut se dégager de l’austérité conservatrice, qui a détruit l’Europe sociale.

Francis C. (London / UK) - 16 September 2016
Thanks to BREXIT the UK will not participate in the super social policy dreamed by the technocrats of Brussels.

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