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Statistical surveys of dairy products



Directive 96/16/EC — statistical surveys of milk and milk products


It lays down EU-wide rules for the collection of statistics on milk* and milk products. It is designed to enable shorter and medium-term monitoring of the EU’s market for milk and milk products — this requires reliable, timely information on production and use of raw milk and of its components (including milk delivery for treatment or processing and the subsequent production of milk products).

It repeals previous legislation (Directive 72/280/EEC) which had been amended on a number of occasions.


EU countries are responsible for data gathering and organising the surveys. The surveys cover the agricultural holdings producing milk and 2 groups of businesses:

  • 1.

    businesses and agricultural holdings which purchase whole milk (or, in certain cases, milk products) from agricultural holdings or from the second group (below) with a view to transforming them into milk products;

  • 2.

    businesses which collect milk and cream but do not process them, and then transfer them to the first group (above) for transformation.

Depending on the information to be collected, EU countries must carry out the surveys on a monthly, an annual or a triennial basis. The directive sets out the deadlines by which EU countries should send the results of the various surveys to the European Commission (Eurostat).

In 1997, the European Commission adopted Decision 97/80/EC laying down rules for implementing Directive 96/16/EC. The list of milk products covered by Directive 96/16/EC is set out in Annex I to Decision 97/80/EC. This annex also provides definitions for each of the products.

Annex II to the decision provides specimens of the tables to be used for transmitting the data to Eurostat.

Annex III contains the questionnaire on the compilation of milk statistics.

The surveys must be exhaustive in the case of dairies accounting for at least 95% of the cows’ milk collected by each EU country, with the balance being estimated on the basis of representative samples or other sources. EU countries are responsible for ensuring comprehensive and sufficiently accurate results.

Each year, EU countries must send a report to Eurostat including their questionnaire and accompanied by their methodology for transposing data to the tables sent to Eurostat. An expert group reviews the operation of the directive annually.


The directive has applied since 1 January 1997. It had to become law in the EU countries by 1 January 1997.


Milk: milk of cows, ewes, goats and buffaloes.


Council Directive 96/16/EC of 19 March 1996 on statistical surveys of milk and milk products (OJ L 78, 28.3.1996, pp. 27-29)

Successive amendments to Directive 96/16/EC have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EC) No 1166/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on farm structure surveys and the survey on agricultural production methods and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 571/88 (OJ L 321, 1.12.2008, pp. 14-34)

See consolidated version.

Commission Decision 97/80/EC of 18 December 1996 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Directive 96/16/EC on statistical surveys of milk and milk products (OJ L 24, 25.1.1997, pp. 26-49)

See consolidated version.

last update 24.04.2018