The European Commission provides European statistics of generally sufficient quality and fit for use by policy makers, business and the public, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors. While the auditors give the Commission a passing grade, they also warn of a number of weaknesses. European statistics should be more useful to their users and better tailored to their needs. Stakeholders such as academia and the research community as a whole should be properly consulted on plans and priorities for European statistics. And there are data gaps in important statistical areas such as labour, business and health.
Official statistics are indispensable for evidence-based decision-making by politicians and business leaders, as well as for the work of researchers, journalists and the public. In the EU, they are used for collecting and allocating funds, as well as for designing and assessing policies in all areas, including employment, environment and the economy. Between 2013 and 2020, almost half a billion euros of taxpayers’ money was spent from EU coffers on the production of European statistics. The auditors checked whether the Commission had taken steps to ensure a high level of quality, and examined the areas of labour, businesses and health in depth.
“The production of statistics is not an end in itself”, said Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz, the ECA member who led the audit. “They are a public good, and must be generated first and foremost with users in mind. In an age of disinformation and serial crises, it is paramount that European official statistics must be high-quality, meet users’ needs and explore innovative ways of production.”