The Statistical Office of the European Community, also known as Eurostat, is a Directorate-General of the Commission of the European Communities, which in turn is an institution of the European Union. The European Union is an economic, political, social, and monetary union of 15 western European nations. The European Union can trace its history through the Treaty of Paris (1951), which created the European Coal and Steel Community; the Treaty of Rome (1957), which created the European Atomic Energy Community and the European Economic Community; the 1967 coming together of these three organizations to form the European Community; and the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which, among many other things, changed the name of the European Community to the European Union (EU). The mission of Eurostat is to provide the EU with harmonized statistical information of the highest quality. Eurostat collects this data from the National Statistical Units of each EU member country. This data is then standardized and "harmonized'" and then disseminated to the EU at large as well as members of the European Economic Area, and in some cases the United States and Japan.
Eurostat was founded in 1953 as the Statistics Division of the High Authority of the Coal and Steel Community. In 1958, following the Treaty of Rome, it became known as the Statistics Division of the European Communities, and in 1959 it adopted its present formal title.
Eurostat is guided by the belief that productive negotiations between member countries of the EU is dependent upon current and reliable statistical information. This information must be in a format that can be justified between the various countries using it. Of the EU members from which information is gathered, there is a wide variance in terms of data quality and uniformity. This is due to gathering techniques, budgetary restraints, concerns of confidentiality, and differences in the way the various countries view the utility of this information. Eurostat harmonizes this data to make it uniformly meaningful and to create a "common statistical language within the EU." Besides being available to member nations and the above institutions, Eurostat data is also available to trade and industry groups, political offices, educational institutions, the media, and private individuals.
Eurostat data is divided into nine major statistical themes: general statistics; economy and finance; population and social conditions; energy and industry; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; external trade; distributive trade, services, and transportation; environment; and research and development. This information is then disseminated as databases, printed publications, and electronic products. The databases include New Cronos, which holds more than 70 million statistical items on the EU nations and their major non-European trading partners; Comext, which is a trade database detailing EU imports and exports; REGIO, which contains EU socioeconomic data; Eurofarm, which deals with agriculture; and GISCO, which combines statistical information with geo-referenced data. The large number of printed publications include statistical documents related to Eurostat's mission. Eurostat's electronic products in CD-ROM format include: Comext, which contains 10,000 product headings, geonomenclature of 200 countries worldwide, each previous year's data formatted by month, quarter, and year, and statistics on major trade partners; Eurostat Yearbook, which provides socioeconomic statistics on EU members; Panorama of European Industry, which profiles Europe's 500 largest companies in the private sector as well as major trends in 25 European industrial sectors; and Eurofarm, which is a specialist database of information dealing with European agriculture, including wine production.
This information is distributed through private hosts, a network of Eurostat Data shops, the national Statistical Institutes of EU member countries, various sales offices, European Documentation Centres, and Euro-info-centres.
A major goal of the Maastricht Treaty was to move the members of the European Community towards the Economic and Monetary Union, which among other things would integrate the monetary policies of member countries and establish a common currency (the euro). Eurostat is playing a major role in this undertaking by being responsible for providing a harmonized index of consumer prices; providing standards for calculating debt and deficits; harmonizing the calculation of member countries' gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP); and harmonizing the calculation of economic indicators. Eurostat will also gather data related to the measurement of inflation, public finances, and indicators of prices, wages, labor costs, external trade, industrial output, balance of payments, and the like. Eurostat is charged with gathering this relevant data in a timely manner and making it comparable.
[ Michael Knes ]
De Michelis, Alberto. "The Statistics Coiner" (EMU and Statistics). Business Economics 33, no. 3 (July 1998): 57-60.
"One-off Measures: Lessons in Massaging the Figures." Banker, May 1998, 29.
Statistical Office of the European Communities. "Eurostat: Statistical Office of the European Communities." Luxembourg: Statistical Office of the European Communities, 1998. Available from europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat/serven/home.htm .