Who can apply?
The programme is open to national statistical authorities responsible for the production and dissemination of European statistics in each Member State of the EU, the EEA EFTA States and, since I January 2007, Switzerland.
The first multiannual programme was established in 1982 for a 3-year period. The requirement for a multiannual statistical programme followed in 1997 from a Council regulation also known as Statistical Law. As per this regulation, the statistical programme defines the approaches, the main fields and the objectives of the actions envisaged for a period not exceeding 5 years and constitute a framework for the production of all Community statistics. The statistical programme is implemented via annual work programmes which provide more detailed work objectives for each year and via specific legislation for major actions.
In 2008, the 7th consecutive medium term programme will come into force and will cover 2008-2012. This programme covers the production and supply of statistical products and services to users, improvement of the quality of statistics and the further development of the European Statistical System (ESS). The ESS is a partnership comprising Eurostat and national statistical authorities. While official statistics are used in support of almost all the Community's policies, the new programme is guided by the following overall policy priorities:
* prosperity, competitiveness and growth;
* solidarity, economic and social cohesion and sustainable development;
* further enlargement of the European Union.
In this general context, special attention is paid to better defining the priorities within the programme and to reducing the burden on information providers.
Participation of EFTA States
Protocol 30 of the EEA Agreement provides for the lull participation of the EEA EFTA States in the programme. The EEA EFTA States are consulted on the programme via their participation in working groups and finally in the Statistical Programme Committee.
Several national experts from the EEA EFTA States have been seconded to Eurostat in Luxembourg since the early 1990s to strengthen cooperation. Usually, 4 experts at a time represent a contribution in kind for the publication and dissemination of EEA EFTA statistical data by Eurostat. Two additional experts are seconded as a contribution to the statistical cooperation programme in the field of statistics. Delegates from the EEA EFTA States participate actively in statistical meetings organised by Eurostat to hannonise and develop methodology and prepare new legislation in the field of statistics. In 2006, EFTA national experts attended a total of 149 Eurostat meetings.
The bilateral Swiss-EU agreement on cooperation in the area of statistics regulates the progressive harmonisation of statistical data collection between the Swiss Federal Statistical Office and Eurostat. Comparability of Swiss and European data in such important areas as trade relations, the employment market, social security, transport and the environment is thus guaranteed ill the medium term. Switzerland also gains visibility in Europe, as more Swiss data are published in statistics compiled by Eurostat. The EU Statistical Programme is also the framework for Swiss-EU cooperation. A specific annual Swiss-EU working programme is the implementing device.
Overall cooperation between the EEA EFTA States and Eurostat has been very good as shown by the high level of participation in meetings in 2006 and the number of seconded experts. However, the main goal of cooperation is the production, transmission and dissemination of data from the 4 EFTA States together with data from the EU States in all dissemination tools. More data from the EFTA States are included than ever before in Eurostat databases and in publications such as the Statistical Yearbook. In the 2006 version of the Yearbook for example. Norway was included in 82% of all indicators presented and Iceland in 61%. Both countries had a slightly increasing inclusion rate over the last years. Liechtenstein was included in 17% of the indicators and Switzerland in 47%.
The EFTA Statistical Office
The EFTA Statistical Office (ESO) in Luxembourg was created as a liaison office between Eurostat and the EFTA national statistical institutes, as explicitly mentioned in Protocol 30 of the EEA Agreement. ESO's main objective is to sustain the integration of the EFTA States in the evolving European Statistical System, and thus provide harmonised and comparable statistics thus supporting general cooperation between EFTA and the EU within and outside the EEA framework.
One of ESO's tasks is to develop the EEA annual statistical programme in close cooperation with the heads of the EEA EFTA national statistical institutes, which implement the 5-year programme. This programme is a sub-section of the EU statistical programme and runs in parallel with the Commission's annual work programme.
Furthermore. ESO is responsible for the follow-up and incorporation of the procedures of EU statistical acts into Annex XXI of the EEA Treaty. New EU legal acts relevant to the EEA are then formally included in Annex XXI after adoption by the EEA Joint Committee. Amongst other tasks, ESO also informs the EFTA national statistical authorities of Eurostat meetings and coordinates the participation of EFTA experts in these meetings.
Federal Statistical Office