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European statistics: how the European Statistical System works

European statistics: how the European Statistical System works



Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 - development, production and dissemination of European statistics


It aims to establish a legal framework for the development, production and dissemination of European statistics that complies with the principles of:

  • professional independence*;
  • impartiality;
  • objectivity;
  • reliability;
  • statistical confidentiality;
  • cost effectiveness.


  • Statistics are important for the performance of European Union (EU) activities. With this regulation, a set of rules is laid out to better manage the statistical process.
  • Statistical governance is exercised by the following bodies:
    • Eurostat, a directorate-general of the European Commission, is the European authority responsible for coordinating statistical activities in the bodies of the EU.
    • EU countries designate national statistical institutes (NSIs) to serve as the national contact points for Eurostat.
    • Meanwhile, the European Statistical System (ESS) is a partnership between Eurostat, NSIs and other national authorities. Under this regulation, the ESS Committee is established, which is composed of NSI representatives and chaired by Eurostat. It works with the Commission on, among other things, the European statistical programme; issues concerning statistical confidentiality; and the further development of the European statistics Code of Practice (which is also updated by the ESS). The ESS also cooperates closely with the European System of Central Banks.
  • Eurostat, the NSIs and other national authorities disseminate European statistics so as to guarantee a wide and impartial access to all users.
  • Unless certain conditions apply (e.g. access by researchers for scientific purposes), confidential data can only be accessed if used for statistical purposes. Confidential data may be transmitted by an authority of the ESS to another authority as long as this act is recognised as being necessary to the development, production or dissemination of European statistics.
  • Regulation (EU) 2015/759 amended this regulation by strengthening:
    • the role of the NSIs in coordinating statistical activities;
    • the professional independence of the heads of the NSIs and Eurostat’s director-general; and
    • the implementation of the Code of Practice.


It has applied since 1 April 2009.


The previous European statistical system was amended to address challenges and policy needs that developed following the global financial crisis. This was to ensure the improved coordination of European statistics and greater flexibility in their dissemination. This regulation, therefore, redefines the framework for European statistics by consolidating the activities of the ESS and clarifying the roles of Eurostat, the NSIs and other national authorities.


Professional independence: the process of developing, producing and disseminating statistics using techniques, definitions, methodologies, and sources that are free from any pressures from political or interest groups, or from EU or national authorities.


Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on European statistics and repealing Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1101/2008 on the transmission of data subject to statistical confidentiality to the Statistical Office of the European Communities, Council Regulation (EC) No 322/97 on Community Statistics, and Council Decision 89/382/EEC, Euratom establishing a Committee on the Statistical Programmes of the European Communities (OJ L 87, 31.3.2009, pp. 164-173)

Subsequent amendments to Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 06.02.2017