Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union based in Luxembourg, was established in 1953 to meet the requirements of the Coal and Steel Community. Over the years its task has broadened and when the European Community was founded in 1958 it became a directorate-general of the European Commission. Eurostat's mission is to provide the European Union with high quality statistics at a European level so that comparisons can be made between countries and regions. This is also recognised in the EEA Agreement, which states that comparable and coherent statistical information describing the economic, social and environmental aspects of the EEA must be produced and disseminated. More information on Eurostat, the EFTA Statistical Office and Statistics can be found in the Statistics section of the EFTA website.
The first multiannual EU statistical programme was established in 1982 for a three-year period. The requirement for a multiannual statistical programme followed in 1997 through a Council regulation, also known as Statistical Law. In accordance with this regulation, the Statistical Programme defines the approaches, main fields and objectives of the actions envisaged for a period not exceeding five years, and constitutes a framework for the production of all Community statistics. The Statistical Programme is implemented through annual work programmes which provide more detailed work objectives for each year, and through specific legislation for major actions.
The seventh consecutive medium term programme came into force in 2008, covering the period 2008 to 2012. This programme covers the production and supply of statistical products and services to users, the improvement of the quality of statistics and the further development of the European Statistical System (ESS). The ESS is a partnership between Eurostat and the national statistical authorities. Whilst official statistics are used in support of almost all Community 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.