Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni: Trust in statistics depends on its professional independence

EU Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, was a special guest to the 42nd meeting of the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC), which was held on 12-13 February in Luxembourg and was the first one for 2020. Traditionally it is chaired by Eurostat and comprises the heads of the national statistical offices of the EU Member states, as well as representatives of the EEA/EFTA, Switzerland, ECB, OECD and IMF. Bulgaria was represented by the President of the National Statistical Institute Sergey Tsvetarski.

Commissioner Gentiloni presented the EC priorities for the development of the European statistics during the next five years. He stressed on three main points: statistical data related to the European Green Deal; monitoring by statistical indicators for the sustainable development goals; scoreboard with indicators for the European Pillar for Social Rights.

The Commissioner emphasized that the new challenges require agile adaptation of the European statistical system and gave an example with the sustainable development goals where the UN criteria should be adapted to the European situation. He highlighted the significance of the statistics in communication with society within the context of the information media spoilt with fake news. According to Commissioner Gentiloni the discussion for the access to private data is forthcoming and gave as an example 5 G where the problem is not only with the access to the data, which the communication giants will have, but also with their protection.

The key to responding to these challenges is the professional independence of the statistical institutes since the trust in the European statistics depends on it, stated Gentiloni and emphasized that during the next five years he will work for statistics that enables policies based on evidence.

At its meeting, the ESSC adopted unanimously Draft Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) specifying the arrangements for and contents of the quality reports on the data to be provided under the framework of Regulation on integrated farm statistics. The committee also reviewed the progress on the Draft Regulation on Statistics on Agricultural Input and Output (SAIO).

The presidents of the European national statistical institutes approved the work done so far on the mechanism for setting the priorities and outlined the next steps. They discussed the Multiannual Action Plan 2021-2027 and the implementation of ESS Vision 2020. The participants shared the opinion that the action plan reflects the European Statistical Programme; it is ambitious and needs effective resource allocation.

ESSC reviewed the report on the 2019 ESS IT security certification exercise and endorsed the certification of 22 countries among which is Bulgaria.

At the meeting the Member States approved and endorsed as ESS standard a Handbook on quality and metadata reports.

Taking into account the key importance of communication for the trust in statistics, ESSC endorsed the draft of mandate of the Task Force on Strategic Communication whose aim is to identify the challenges in front of the European Statistical System and to propose coordinated approaches when appropriate. A decision was taken for the Task Force and Destatis to organize an informal workshop for the Directors-General of the statistical institutes on strategic communication within the German Presidency. 

Topics of the discussion were also the ESS Common Position for the upcoming 51st Session of the UNSC, which will be held in the beginning of March in New York. The results of the Croatian Presidency, the progress on the methodology of the next round of peer reviews and planned timetable for the adoption of FRIBS related implementing and delegated acts were reviewed too. The Eurostat Director-General Mariana Kotzeva informed the ESSC members for the activities related to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom.