The institutional and legal framework of EEA statistical cooperation.
The European Economic Area What is the EEA?
The European Economic Area (EEA) unites the 27 EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) in an Internal Market governed by the same basic rules. These rules aim to enable goods, services, capital and persons to move freely about the EEA in an open and competitive environment, a concept referred to as the "four freedoms". In practice, this means that citizens of all 30 countries, with almost 500 million consumers, have the right to live, study, work, invest and set up business in the EEA. In other words, the objective of the EEA Agreement is to promote a continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relations between the EEA States with a view to creating a homogenous European Economic Area.
The EEA Agreement was signed in 1992 and came into force on 1 January 1994. A public referendum in 1992 in Switzerland rejected membership of the EEA. Subsequently, Switzerland has maintained and developed its relationship with the EU through a series of sectoral agreements.
Flanking and Horizontal Policies
The EEA Agreement includes horizontal provisions relevant to the four freedoms. These provisions form the legal basis for incorporating EU legislation on social policy, consumer protection, the environment, statistics and company law into the EEA Agreement.
In addition to the four freedoms and horizontal provisions, the EEA Agreement covers flanking areas for which cooperation is to be strengthened and broadened through participation in EU programmes.
Among the flanking policy areas are:
* Research and technological development
* Education, training and youth
* Public health
The purpose of statistical cooperation in the EEA is to provide comparable and reliable statistical information in order to describe and monitor all relevant fields of cooperation covered by the EEA Agreement. Thus, both the EEA EFTA and EU Member States decided in as early as 1989 to consider statistics as a horizontal and flanking policy area of the EEA with specific provisions in the Agreement: Article 76, Protocol 30 and Annex XXI.
What is the EEA Not?
The EEA contains a whole range of major policy areas linked directly or indirectly to the four freedoms covering more than 80% of EU legislation. However, the EEA Agreement does not cover:
* Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policy (although the Agreement does contain provisions on various aspects of trade in agricultural and fish products)
* Common Foreign and Security Policy Justice and Home Affairs Policy (even though the EEA EFTA States are part of the Schengen area)
* Common Trade Policy
* Customs Union
* Monetary Union
In addition to specific policy areas, there are certain political procedures that do not apply to the EEA EFTA countries. The EEA EFTA States have not transferred any legislative competence to the EEA institutions and all decisions on the EEA EFTA side are therefore taken unanimously. The policy areas mentioned above and the different political procedures are important distinctions between membership of the European Union and participation in the European Economic Area.
EEA Joint Bodies
The institutional arrangements under the EEA Agreement are laid down in a two-pillar structure with the EEA EFTA institutions matching those on the EU side. Substantive decisions relating to the EEA Agreement and its operation are a joint venture and are taken by joint bodies.
The EEA Joint Committee is responsible for the management of the EEA Agreement. In this forum, views are exchanged and decisions taken by mutual agreement to incorporate EU legislation into the EEA Agreement. It is made up of the ambassadors of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to the EU and representatives of the European External Action Service. Decisions are taken by unanimity. This means that the EEA EFTA States must agree (the "speaking with one voice" principle) before the EEA Joint Committee can take a decision.
The EEA Council provides the political impetus for the development of the Agreement and guidelines for the Joint Committee. The EEA Council is composed of EEA EFTA foreign ministers and - before the Lisbon Treaty - the EU foreign ministers of the previous, current and forthcoming EU Council presidencies, the so-called "troika". After the Lisbon Treaty, the EU Council decided that, until further notice, the EEA Council would continue to be chaired on the EU side by the rotating presidency.
Other joint EEA institutional organisations are the EEA Parliamentary Committee, comprising members of the national parliaments of the EEA EFTA States and of the European Parliament (EP), and the EEA Consultative Committee, comprising members of the EFTA Consultative Committee and of the European Economic and Social Committee. Both committees are advisory bodies.
EEA EFTA Bodies
The Standing Committee of the EFTA States coordinates the preparation for meetings of the EEA Joint Committee. It serves as a forum in which the EEA EFTA States can consult each other and arrive at a common position before meeting with the EU in the Joint Committee. The Standing Committee is made up of the ambassadors of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to the EU as well as observers from Switzerland and the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). The Standing Committee meets once a month and the chair rotates between the EEA EFTA States every six months.
The substructure of the Standing Committee mirrors that of the EEA Joint Committee:
* Subcommittee I on the Free Movement of Goods
* Subcommittee II on the Free Movement of Capital and Services
* Subcommittee III on the Free Movement of Persons
* Subcommittee IV on Flanking and Horizontal Policies, including EEA statistical cooperation
In 2003 the Standing Committee approved the practical merger of Subcommittees II, III and IV, and in 2009 the Standing Committee further approved the practical merger of Subcommittee I with Subcommittees II-IV. In addition to the four policy subcommittees, Subcommittee V on the EEA EFTA side deals with legal and institutional questions.
The EFTA Secretariat in Brussels and the EFTA Statistical Office in Luxembourg provide support to the Standing Committee and its subsidiary bodies in the administration of the EEA Agreement.
The EFTA Surveillance Authority monitors the fulfilment of obligations under the EEA Agreement, mirroring the role of the European Commission on the EU side. In general terms, this means that ESA ensures that the provisions of the Agreement, including the protocols and acts referred to in the annexes to the Agreement, are properly implemented in the national legal orders of the EEA EFTA States, and that their authorities apply the EEA rules correctly. ESA, like the European Commission, has extended competence in the fields of public procurement, state aid and competition.
The EFTA Court has jurisdiction with regard to the EEA EFTA States. The Court deals mainly with infringement actions brought by ESA against an EEA EFTA State concerning the implementation, application or interpretation of EEA rules. The Court has competence to settle disputes between two or more EFTA States, to handle appeals concerning decisions taken by ESA and to give advisory opinions to the national courts of the EEA EFTA States on the interpretation of EEA rules. Thus, the jurisdiction of the EFTA Court largely reflects the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union vis-a-vis the EU Member States.
Legislative Procedure in the European Union
The Right of Initiative of the European Commission
According to the Lisbon Treaty (the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) only the Commission has the right of legislative initiative. The exception to this is where the Treaty provides otherwise, in particular concerning judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters. The European Parliament (EP) and the Council hold the role of legislators.
The treaty of Lisbon also introduces the right of initiative for EU citizens, thereby increasing their participation in the EU decision-making process. It enables them, through the provision of at least one million signatures from a significant number of Member States, to put forward proposals to the Commission.
Codecision as the "Ordinary Legislative Procedure"
The codecision procedure (Article 251 TEC) was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht (the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC)) and further strengthened by the Treaties of Amsterdam and Nice. It means that the European Parliament and the Council decide jointly on whether to adopt or reject legislation proposed by the Commission. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, codecision has become the "ordinary legislative procedure". As defined in Article 294 TFEU, the ordinary legislative procedure is the central decision-making mechanism for most policy areas, including the field of statistics (Article 338 TFEU).
Another important new element introduced into the legislative procedure by the Lisbon Treaty is the strengthened role of the national parliaments. Proposals from the Commission are forwarded to Member States' national parliaments at the same time that they are sent to the EP and the Council (Protocol 1 TFEU, Article 2). The parliaments then have eight weeks to examine whether the proposals encroach on the sovereignty of the Member States and exceed the powers conferred on the EU (the subsidiarity test). If one-third of the national parliaments agree that the proposal has failed the test, the Commission must give a reasoned opinion, explaining its position. The Lisbon Treaty also introduced a control mechanism, whereby the national parliaments could trigger a special procedure by a simple majority; if 55% of the Member States in the Council or a simple majority in the European Parliament agree that the proposal fails the subsidiarity test, the Commission has to withdraw the proposal.
European legislation may take the form of a regulation, directive or decision:
* Regulations are binding and directly applicable in the Member States. No national measures are required to apply them and therefore nothing may delay their application. Regulations are the most common form of statistical legislation.
* Directives bind Member States to transpose common EU rules within a certain period. The choice of form and method is left to the Member States.
* Decisions are binding on their addressees. If all Member States are addressees, the effects of decisions are substantially the same as those of regulations. Decisions are used in statistics generally for specific topics or programme actions.
The treaties also provide for so-called "special legislative procedures" to be used in sensitive areas. According to these procedures, the EP or the Council can adopt alone with just the involvement of the other. This procedure will most likely be of no relevance to statistical legislation.
"Comitology" after the Lisbon Treaty
EU legislation may contain provisions conferring power on the Commission to implement the act in question. The Lisbon Treaty substantially modified this system of delegating implementing powers to the Commission. Two new provisions now regulate what was formerly known as comitology, rendering the comitology system (and the name) partially redundant: delegated acts (Article 290 TFEU) and implementing acts (Article 291 TFEU). The TFEU provides a clear distinction between these two types of acts. Under Article 290 TFEU the legislator can delegate to the Commission the power to adopt non-legislative acts of general application to supplement or amend certain non-essential elements of a legislative act, while under Article 291 TFEU powers are conferred on the Commission by the legislator to implement the provisions of a basic act if uniform conditions for implementing it are needed.
* Delegated act: Article 290 TFEU provides that a legislative act may delegate power to the Commission to draft and adopt acts that amend a basic act by deleting, replacing or adding nonessential elements, or that supplement it with a separate act enforcing non-essential rules or new norms.
The system of delegated acts does not foresee any comitology committees. These have been abolished and replaced by the legislators' extended rights of objection and revocation. Both the EP and the Council have the power to object to a delegated act. Consequently, delegated acts adopted by the Commission only enter into force after expiry of the time period for objection, which is generally two months. Revocation is a power given to the EP and the Council to call back wholly or partly the powers delegated to the Commission. The decision to revoke may be taken at any time after the entry into force of the basic legislative act providing for it.
Even if national experts have no institutional role in the decision-making process, the Commission has committed itself to carrying out appropriate and transparent consultations with experts from all Member States whilst preparing a draft delegated act. Existing expert groups should typically be used for this procedure and new ones established if necessary.
Article 290 TFEU applied to new legislative acts with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009. The provisions therein did not require any legally binding framework but were made operational by a Common Understanding of the EP, the Council and the Commission (1).
Pre-Lisbon regulatory procedure with scrutiny - The delegated act is the successor of the pre-Lisbon comitology mechanism. Regulatory Procedure with Scrutiny (RPS), but there is no automatic alignment from RPS to delegated acts. This means that RPS will continue to exist as a procedure in committees for some years more. The Commission has committed itself to finalising legislative revisions of basic acts foreseeing RPS by the end of 2014, basically replacing them with delegated acts on a case-by-case basis.
* Implementing act: Under Article 291 TFEU, Member States are primarily responsible for the implementation of EU law. Where uniform conditions for implementing legally binding acts are needed, these acts confer implementing powers on the Commission under the supervision of the Member States. The rules and principles for Member States' control of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers are laid down in Regulation (EU) No 182/211 and came into force on 1 March 2011 (2).
Member States control the Commission's executive powers in accordance with one of only two procedures: the advisory procedure, which existed in pre-Lisbon comitology, or the examination procedure, which is a merger of the pre-Lisbon management and regulatory procedures. The act that confers the implementing powers will also state which of the two procedures applies. In both cases, committees formed of representatives of Member States and chaired by the Commission are responsible for scrutinising the proposed implementing acts. The control mechanism can also include referral to an appeal committee.
Advisory procedure - Member States, through an advisory committee, give non-binding advice to the Commission by a simple majority. Even if not binding, the Commission takes the utmost account of the opinion delivered by the committee, but the latter cannot prevent the Commission from adopting the measures it considers most appropriate.
Examination procedure - Member States, through an examination committee, give binding advice to the Commission by a qualified majority. A positive opinion from the committee implies that the Commission shall adopt the implementing measures, and the absence of an opinion (except in some particular cases) gives the Commission the possibility to adopt the implementing measures. The Commission shall not adopt the proposed implementing measures when it receives a negative opinion. It may submit an amended version to the same committee or submit the original proposal to the appeal committee.
Pre-Lisbon comitology procedures - An automatic alignment guarantees the immediate switchover from pre-Lisbon procedures to the two new procedures for committees. The pre-Lisbon advisory procedure is aligned to the new procedure of the same name, and for the management and regulatory procedures the examination procedure applies.
Soft Law Instruments
In the European Union the term "soft law" is used to describe various types of instruments with no legal effects of their own, such as recommendations, guidelines, resolutions and gentlemen's agreements. Soft law instruments are in some cases preferred, as they have some advantages in terms of efficiency and flexibility compared to legal acts.
Decision Shaping in the EEA
According to the EEA Agreement, the EEA EFTA States have the opportunity to contribute to the shaping of EU legislation at the preparatory or pre-pipeline stage by participating in the Commission's experts groups, committees and other advisory bodies.
EEA EFTA Participation in Expert Groups
As the initiator of EU legislation, the Commission is responsible for the preparatory work leading to draft proposals. For this purpose, advice is often sought from experts of the Member States. EEA EFTA States' influence on the shaping of legislation is significant at this pre-pipeline stage, as the EEA Agreement provides for extensive participation by EEA EFTA experts in the preparatory work of the Commission. In accordance with the EEA Agreement, the Commission shall informally seek advice from experts of the EEA EFTA States in the same way that it seeks advice from experts of the EU Member States.
More concretely, EEA EFTA experts shall be included in the preparatory work of the Commission through expert group meetings. In the field of statistics, these groups are generally called advisory committees, directors groups, working groups or task forces (TFs). They are formed with the purpose of advising the Commission (Eurostat) and assisting it with the drafting of new laws, which are later to be adopted through codecision or through delegated or implementing acts.
EEA EFTA Participation in EU Committees
In addition to the meetings of the experts mentioned above, the EEA EFTA States have the right of participation in committees (Article 100 EEA) that assist the European Commission to exercise its executive powers when adopting implementing acts. Article 81 and Protocol 30 of the EEA Agreement on specific provisions on the organisation of cooperation in the field of statistics assert that the EEA EFTA States shall participate fully without the right to vote in many of the committees in the area of statistics. The Commission transmits to the Council and the EP the views of the experts of the EEA EFTA States along with the result of the votes under the implementing acts procedure.
Information to EEA EFTA States' National Parliaments
Like the national parliaments of the EU Member States, the EEA EFTA national parliaments receive all proposals for ordinary legislative procedures from the Commission for information as soon as they are identified by the EFTA Secretariat.
Decision Making in the EEA
Principle of Homogeneity
The underlying principle of the EEA is that of homogeneity. This is to be achieved through the timely incorporation of EU legislation (acquis communautaire) into the EEA Agreement. This means that as soon as a relevant EU legal act has been formally adopted through the codecision procedure (Council and European Parliament) or implemented through delegated or implementing acts, the EEA Joint Committee shall take a decision on the appropriate amendment to the EEA Agreement.
Legal texts adopted by the European Union in the field of statistics that are also made part of the EEA Agreement through an EEA Joint Committee Decision are included in Annex XXI. This Annex also notes any EEA specific amendments or adaptations. When the EEA Agreement entered into force, 26 legal acts were part of Annex XXL In 2011 there are just over 300.
EEA statistical cooperation is to a great extent based on law. However, parts of the commitments within the European Statistical System (ESS) are based on so-called "soft law instruments" such as gentlemen's agreements, to which the EEA States also adhere but which are not incorporated into Annex XXL In 2011 there are some 40 gentlemen's agreements in effect, most of which include participation by at least one EEA EFTA State.
Concept of EEA Relevance
EEA relevant acts are those acts that are covered by the EEA Agreement. Broadly speaking, these are all legal acts that support the achievement of a homogeneous European Economic Area through the implementation of the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital, including cooperation in flanking and horizontal policies.
The relevance of an EU legal act is first assessed independently by the parties according to their own internal procedures and then submitted to the EEA Joint Committee for a final decision. The Commission mentions in the heading of an EU legal act when it believes that a piece of legislation is EEA relevant. Nevertheless, this does not constitute a binding indication for the EFTA pillar of the EEA Agreement and a certain number of legal acts without this indication have also been included in the Agreement.
The contracting parties of the EEA Agreement have not transferred any legislative powers to the EEA Joint Committee. It has therefore been necessary to regulate the situation in which, according to their constitutions, an EEA Joint Committee Decision can only be binding once it has been approved by national parliament or by referendum (Article 103 EEA).
The fulfilment of constitutional requirements has an impact on the date of entry into force of the Joint Committee Decision. When one of the contracting parties needs to fulfil constitutional requirements, the confirmed date of entry into force will be the first day of the second month following the final notification.
With regard to exemptions/derogations from certain provisions of an EU act, there are two formal procedures:
The legal act to be incorporated into the EEA Agreement foresees a provision that gives the competence to the Commission to grant exemptions/ derogations to an EU Member State. In this case, a similar exemption/derogation to an EEA EFTA State may be granted in accordance with the two-pillar structure of the EEA, by the EFTA Surveillance Authority. Consequently, an EEA EFTA State wishing to obtain such exemption/derogation will have to address a request to ES A once the EU act mandating the Commission to grant exemptions/ derogations has been incorporated into the EEA Agreement.
In all other cases, if an EEA EFTA State wishes to obtain an exemption/derogation from an EU legal act, it will have to request an adaptation text in the Joint Committee Decision incorporating the relevant act into the EEA Agreement. In other words, it is the Joint Committee that will decide on exemption or derogation in the last instance. In this case the Council will clear the Joint Committee Decision on the EU side.
The Legal Basis for EEA Statistical Cooperation
The EEA EFTA States and the EU both recognise the importance of reliable and comparable statistics for describing and monitoring all relevant policies and programmes within the framework of the EEA Agreement. EEA cooperation in the field of statistics should therefore be seen in relation to the overall objective of the Agreement:
"to promote a continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relations between the contracting parties with equal conditions of competition, and the respect of the same rules, with a view to creating a homogeneous European Economic Area." (Article 1 of the EEA Agreement)
In its provisions on statistics, Article 76 stipulates that:
* Statistical cooperation shall cover all relevant economic, social and environmental aspects of the EEA.
* Contracting parties shall harmonise methods, definitions and classifications.
* Annex XXI contains the list of relevant legal acts in the field of statistics.
* Protocol 30 settles the organisation of statistical cooperation.
Protocol 30 of the EEA Agreement provides for the practical organisation of statistical cooperation between parties and in particular:
* The EEA Statistical Conference (EEA NSIs, Eurostat and ESO) guides statistical cooperation in combined meetings with the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC).
* EFTA States shall participate fully, without the right to vote, in EU committees, working groups and other bodies dealing with statistics.
* A specific EEA annual statistical programme shall be developed by ESO in consultation with the Heads of EEA EFTA NSIs.
* Cooperation shall include data dissemination, EEA EFTA contribution and seconded national experts.
Secondary Legislation on Statistics
Annex XXI to the EEA Agreement contains all secondary EU legal acts (acquis communautaire) in the field of statistics that are EEA relevant. Legal acts incorporated into Annex XXI are binding for all parties to the EEA Agreement.
In brief, Annex XXI contains a list of EU legal acts (regulations, directives and decisions) in the field of statistics adopted by the EEA Joint Committee, and notification of any EEA specific adaptations to EU legislation adopted by the EEA Joint Committee.
According to the two-pillar structure of the EEA Agreement, follow-up of the implementation of EEA relevant legislation is the exclusive competence of ESA on the EFTA side and of the European Commission on the EU side.
Statistics as a Flanking and Horizontal Policy
As mentioned in the introduction, the purpose of statistical cooperation within the framework of the EEA is to provide comparable and reliable statistical information for describing and monitoring all relevant fields of cooperation covered by the EEA Agreement. The Agreement considers statistics as a horizontal and flanking policy area.
EFTA Institutional Set-Up for EEA Statistical Cooperation
The Working Group of the Heads of the National Statistical Institutes
The Standing Committee of the EFTA States is assisted by five subcommittees. Subcommittee IV on Flanking and Horizontal Policies is in charge of EEA statistical cooperation.
In 1994, Subcommittee IV formally established the Working Group of the Heads of the National Statistical Institutes (WG of Heads of NSIs) to assist it in all issues related to statistical cooperation under the EEA Agreement. This decision was replaced by a decision in 2011 and confirmed the WG of Heads of NSIs as a subsidiary body of Subcommittee IV (3).
According to the decision, the WG of Heads of NSIs shall assist Subcommittee IV in all matters relevant to their respective field and in particular in the information and consultation process relating to the incorporation of EU legislation into the EEA Agreement.
In addition to the formal EEA mandate of the WG of Heads of NSIs, with Switzerland participating purely as an observer, the WG deals with EFTA statistical cooperation issues outside the framework of the EEA Agreement, such as technical assistance and training. For these activities concerning the four EFTA States, the WG reports to the EFTA Council in Geneva. The WG has no formal mandate for activities outside the EEA Agreement.
The WG consists of the directors-general of the four EFTA NSIs and meets at least once a year. A chairperson is elected for two years, a term of office that is renewable. Switzerland has observer status for EEA relevant matters. ESO is the secretariat of the WG of Heads of NSIs and hence serves the group in all relevant issues.
The chair of the WG is also the EEA EFTA speaker in combined European Statistical System Committee/ EEA Conference meetings when the EEA EFTA countries deliver their opinion according to the "one voice" principle.
The EFTA Statistical Office (4)
The EFTA Statistical Office's main objective is to sustain the integration of the EFTA States into the evolving European Statistical System (ESS), thereby providing harmonised and comparable statistics supporting the general cooperation process between EFTA and the EU. ESO's responsibilities include:
* Following up on and implementing the procedures for incorporating EU statistical acts into Annex XXI to the EEA Agreement after adoption by the EEA Joint Committee.
* Contributing to the development of the EEA Statistical Programme. This programme is a subset of the EU Statistical Programme and is revised annually.
* Supporting the production and dissemination of EEA statistics (via Eurostat). This includes regular assessment of the inclusion of EFTA data in Eurostat publications and databases.
* Informing the EFTA national statistical authorities of Eurostat meetings and coordinating EFTA experts' participation in those meetings. All invitations to EFTA experts are sent through ESO,
* Acting as the point of liaison between Eurostat and the EFTA national statistical institutes in the recruitment of EFTA national experts seconded to Eurostat.
* In close cooperation with Eurostat, designing and implementing EFTA technical assistance projects in the field of statistics for third countries and participating in the European Statistical Training Programme.
ESO is located in Luxembourg on the premises of Eurostat and is institutionally part of the EFTA Secretariat. Its main driving force is the WG of Heads of NSIs.
EEA Annual Statistical Programme
European Multiannual Statistical Programme
This comprehensive and strategic multiannual programme, not exceeding five years, focuses on the production and dissemination of statistical information, the improvement of the quality of statistics and further development of the European Statistical System (ESS).
The EFTA States are directly involved in the preparation of the statistical programme, since national statistical authorities are consulted in detail through working groups assisting Eurostat in its activities and through the European Statistical System Committee (ESSC). The programme is approved by the Council and European Parliament (by codecision procedure) and provides the general framework for EEA statistical actions to be carried out over the next multiannual period. Following Protocol 30, all main fields and statistical themes of the programme are considered to be relevant to EEA statistical cooperation and shall therefore be open to full participation by the EEA EFTA States.
Annual Work Programme of the Commission
The European multiannual statistical programme is implemented through annual work programmes drawn up by the Commission, which provide more detailed work objectives for each year. The programme contains the Commission's priorities on statistical work, which are enshrined in the Commission's annual policy strategy.
Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2009 on European Statistics states how the multiannual and annual programmes are implemented. The programme is divided into domains, themes, actions and modules.
EEA Annual Statistical Programme
According to Protocol 30 to the EEA Agreement, the EFTA Statistical Office is to develop a specific EEA annual statistical programme in consultation with the WG of Heads of NSIs. The programme is a subset of and runs in parallel with the annual work programme of the Commission.
The main objective of the EEA annual statistical programme is to identify modules of the annual work programme of the Commission where EEA EFTA participation could contribute to the attainment of the common objectives mentioned in Article 76 of the Agreement.
The inclusion or exclusion of a module in the EEA annual statistical programme could impact on:
* Statistical priorities in the EEA EFTA States
* Respondent burden in the countries
* Allocation of human and financial resources in national statistical authorities
It could also have implications for the degree to which the EEA EFTA States are integrated into the European Statistical System, and for more specific issues such as participation in meetings, grant programmes and financial contribution.
Establishment of the EEA Annual Statistical Programme
The procedure for adopting the EEA annual statistical programme involves the following steps:
* A draft programme is sent to the experts in the EEA EFTA NSIs for their comments and advice shortly after the adoption of the annual work programme of the Commission.
* A consolidated version of the programme is elaborated on the basis of their comments.
* The experts are consulted again if necessary.
* ESO consults the relevant unit in Eurostat on the draft EEA annual statistical programme.
* A final version of the programme is then prepared and presented to the heads of national statistical institutes for approval.
* The final EEA annual statistical programme is sent to the EFTA NSIs, Eurostat and the EFTA Secretariat in Brussels,
A specific Swiss/EU annual statistical programme exists on the basis of the Swiss/EU Agreement on Statistical Cooperation.
Financial Contribution to EEA Statistical Cooperation
In accordance with Article 82.1 (a)(b) of the EEA Agreement and the provisions of Protocol 30, the EEA EFTA States shall contribute financially every year to the statistical programme of the European Union. This contribution can be divided into operational and administrative costs.
The EEA EFTA contribution to operational costs refers to the relevant budget lines of the general budget of the European Union, calculated on the basis of the so-called "proportionality factor". The proportionality factor for participation by the EEA EFTA States in all EU programmes is fixed annually according to the GDP share of the EEA EFTA countries. As not all elements of the EU's statistical programme are relevant to EEA statistical cooperation, the EEA EFTA States' actual payment is 75% of their calculated share.
The EEA EFTA contribution to administrative costs is subject to an annual agreement between the EEA EFTA States and the Commission through the Working Group on Budgetary Matters. This contribution can be divided into three elements:
* A contribution to Eurostat for storing, processing and disseminating EEA EFTA data. This contribution is paid partly in kind through four seconded national experts (SNEs) to Eurostat and partly in cash for three administrative staff and information and technology costs.
* A financial contribution to meetings, conferences and missions.
* A financial contribution to overhead costs for the four SNEs and three support staff.
The total financial contribution is divided between the individual EEA EFTA States based on a cost-sharing formula calculated according to GDP.
The table below shows EEA EFTA financial contribution to operational and administrative costs for the statistical programme 2008-2012, the completion of the statistical programme 2003-2007 and a particular module outside the programmes on the Modernisation of European Enterprise and Trade Statistics (MEETS):
Payments in EU EEA [euro] in 2011 EFTA 2.38% Total EEA IS LI NO EFTA Total 2.94% 1.26% 98.80% Statistical Programme 2008-2012 Operational 40 987 160 731 621 21 510 9 218 700 893 costs (75%) Administrative 507 140 14 910 6 390 485 840 costs Result 2009 -2 560 -123 -26 -2 411 Statistical Programme 2003-2007 (completion) Operational 2 856 537 50 989 1 499 642 48 848 costs (75%) Result 2009 0 0 0 0 MEETS Operational 3 336 537 59 557 1 751 750 57 056 costs (75%) Result 2009 36 288 1 749 363 34 176 Net contribution 1 315 579 38 044 16 664 1 260 871 2011
(1) Council note on Common Understanding - Delegated Acts, doc no 8753/11.
(2) Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers.
(3) Decision of Subcommittees I, II, III and IV of the Standing Committee of the EFTA States No 01/11/I-II-III-IV of 1 February 2011 on Working Groups in the field of Free Movement of Goods, Capital and Services, Free Movement of Persons and Flanking and Horizontal Policies.
(4) The office was first named the Office of the Statistical Adviser (OSA), then the Statistical Adviser's Office (SAO) and finally in 2006 it was renamed as the EFTA Statistical Office (ESO).