25 August 2016

Towards better social statistics for a social Europe

The European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on new, integrated ways to collect and use data from social surveys so as to better support policy making in general and social policy in particular.

A more solid evidence base in terms of social indicators will improve the analysis of social developments for Europe.

As Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, as well as for European statistics (EUROSTAT), said: "Today we take an important step to modernise social statistics. Yet this is not about numbers, this is about people. Good policies start with good data. We need the most accurate information in the social field. We need more up to date data and receive it faster in order to design social policies that correspond to the real needs of citizens in Europe today. Today's proposal is another example of how this Commission puts the social dimension at the heart of its agenda."

The proposed framework Regulation will allow data to be published faster, as it reduces the transmission deadlines in a number of areas. It will also increase the comparability and coherence of EU social statistics, by bringing together seven existing household surveys that are currently carried out in the EU and harmonising variables that are common to two or more surveys. This will, in addition, facilitate joint analysis of social phenomena, based on new survey methods. Finally, we will a richer and broader data set at our disposal, thanks to the use of innovative approaches and methods by national statistical authorities and the combination of data from several sources. 


This initiative is part of a major programme for the modernisation of social statistics undertaken in close cooperation with the Member States. It addresses the increased challenges in this area of statistics, which include rapid innovation in methodologies and uses of IT, the availability of new data sources, emerging needs and expectations of data users as well as continued pressure on available resources. It will also support the planned European Pillar of Social Rights which requires a solid evidence base in subjects such as inequalities, skills, access to employment for all and social protection expenditures - all of which should be better described with sound and timely statistics. This initiative is also part of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) and aims to streamline the European social statistics collected from samples and to make the data collection process more efficient and the statistical output more relevant.

Similar initiatives are being developed in other areas of statistics, such as business and agricultural statistics.