The Council adopted the following conclusions :
"Following the priorities set in the ECOFIN Council Conclusions of 10 November 2009, 17 November 2010, and 20 June 2011 on statistical governance, priority setting, robust quality management, and Status Report on Information Requirements in EMU, the ECOFIN Council has reviewed the progress made in these areas and endorses the EFC opinion on EU Statistics.
The Council WELCOMES the revised Code of Practice for the European Statistical System as it strengthens professional independence, covers more widely the use of administrative data for statistical purposes, and sets clearer guidance for the principle and indicators on quality commitment.
The Council WELCOMES the third report of the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) and
• CALLS UPON Governments to acknowledge their share of responsibility in strengthening the credibility of official statistics and to consider the necessary steps, based on the results of the pilot exercise, for a swift implementation of 'Commitments on Confidence in statistics' as a concrete way to commit all parties involved in the provision of high quality statistics, taking into account the principle of subsidiarity and the Ecofin Council Conclusions of 20 June 2011 ;
• INVITES the Commission to put forward shortly a proposal for amending Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics in view of reinforcing the governance framework especially regarding professional independence of national statistical authorities and Eurostat.
Efficiency, response burden, priority setting, and simplification
The Council RECALLS the need to continue the efforts on reduction of response burden, simplification, and priority-setting without jeopardizing the quality and availability of essential statistical data for policy-making in the EU taking into account the heterogeneity across Member States of data collection systems, and WELCOMES the joint strategy adopted by the European Statistical System (ESS).
The Council is AWARE that modernisation and upgrading of statistical production processes moving progressively towards more integrated systems and further reliance on external data may require significant efforts and CALLS UPON Member States to establish – when this is not already the case - appropriate working arrangements between statistical authorities and other public administrations and to address the challenges linked to data protection and confidentiality, governance, and coordination issues within and between Member States.
The Council WELCOMES the process initiated within the ESS to simplify statistical requirements by a periodical screening of existing statistical requirements and identification of legal acts to be repealed, data collections to be stopped, and areas to be reduced or simplified and CALLS UPON the ESS to step up these efforts.
Some new initiatives have already been launched aiming to reduce the response burden on companies and individuals and to increase the efficiency of the statistical production system.
Building on the experiences gained, the Council CALLS UPON European Statistical System to take the necessary steps in the area of international trade statistics to address current and future user needs and to take effective measures ensuring a substantial reduction of the response burden by redeveloping Intrastat1 (not excluding the option of a "single flow system"), while maintaining a sound level of quality needed for, e.g., European System of Accounts purposes.
The Council ACKNOWLEDGES that improvements of the efficiency in European statistics will offer a long-term strategic option, especially when combined with a well-functioning prioritysetting and simplification strategy; RECOGNISES that many projects require substantial up-front investments and continuous attention in the coming years; and CALLS UPON Member States and the European Commission to secure adequate resource and to enhance the collaboration within the ESS based on a sound distribution of roles and tasks between its members.
Excessive Deficit Procedure - preventive approach
The Council notes that the Commission (Eurostat) is taking the lead in the preparation of a study on the suitability of International Public Sector Accounting Standards for Member States in line with the Council conclusions of 20 June 2011 and the Council Directive on the requirements for budgetary frameworks2.
The 2011 EFC Status Report on Information Requirements in EMU
The Council ENDORSES the 2011 EFC Status Report on Information Requirements in the EMU.
In particular, the Council
• WELCOMES the progress since 2010, and notes that the availability and quality of PEEIs generally have improved but that a harmonised indicator on house sales is not yet available ;
Timeliness of the PEEIs has improved slightly but the release dates still remain well behind the targets for quarterly sector accounts, national accounts employment, and residential property price indices.
• WELCOMES the strategy and the roadmap outlining the further development of the PEEIs that gives the highest priority to the implementation of the current targets and the punctual dissemination of the agreed PEEIs showing a high reliability and acknowledges that some of the measures may take several years to implement.
• WELCOMES the progress made in meeting the structural needs on statistics and UNDERLINES the need for further work in this area, as outlined in the EPC Report.
• INVITES Eurostat and the ECB to provide an updated EFC Status Report on the fulfilment of the updated EMU statistical requirements in 2012."
1 Survey of trade in goods between Member States of the European Union.
2 Council Directive for Budgetary Frameworks for Member States