The notion of statistical cooperation with partners beyond the European Statistical System (ESS) refers to endeavours of EFTA ("EFTA at four") and the European Commission, often in cooperation with other international organisations (e.g. UNECE, UNSD, IMF etc.) to build up statistical capacities in selected partner countries. The legal basis of ESO's statistical cooperation activities is an Administrative Arrangement (AA) which is a declaration of intent to be agreed upon by EFTA and Eurostat for a renewable period of three years, the latest for the years 2023-2025. The yearly budget is 700 000 EUR including the expenses of two experts seconded from EFTA National Statistical Instuitutes to Eurostat's technical coooperation unit.
The administrative arrangement between Eurostat and EFTA on Technical Cooperation covers the following regions and countries:
Candidate and potential candidate countries for the EU: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Türkiye.
EU Neighbourhood Policy South: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Northern Cyprus, Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Tunisia.
EU Neighbourhood Policy East: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus*, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
With UNECE, the cooperation has been extended to include countries in Caucasus and Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
*Following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, EFTA has withdrawn all cooperation with Belarus. The technical cooperation is thus limited to the EFTA partner countries, i.e. all of the above excluding Belarus.
ESO, in close cooperation with the four EFTA NSIs, Eurostat and the UNECE, contributes to these statistical capacity building activities financially and by providing expertise in many fields. The main activities are:
- Global Assessments (GA): Global Assessments are stock-taking exercises usually consisting of two one week missions that are conducted by expert groups in the statistical offices of partner countries. The objective is to compare the existing national provisions (legal, organisational, statistical production, etc.) against those requested by the European Code of Practice (ECoP) and the United Nations’ Fundamental Principles of Statistics (FPoS). The results are subject to a report that serves on the one hand for the National Statistical Institutes as a reference for the evaluation of their actual state compared to international standards, while, on the other hand, it allows international organisations to plan and better tailor their supporting activities towards countries and/or regions
- Peer Reviews (PR): Peer Reviews have a similar intention as GAs but omit a detailed review of different statistical production areas in favour of highlighting legal and organisational aspects of National Statistical Institutes
- Statistical Training Programmes: Concrete trainings in various fields of statistical production on methods and methodologies for staff of National Statistical Offices.
- Conferences and Seminars: The aim is to gather different groups (High Level Management of National Statistical Institutes as well as statistical desk officers in different domains) in order to discuss and exchange experiences on strategic issues and concrete implementation of methods.