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Incredible Statistics 01

The Incredible Statistics of the European Union
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The Incredible Statistics of the European Union



The European Court of Auditors has released an interesting Special Report awkwardly entitled "Did the Commission and Eurostat Improve the Process for Producing Reliable and Credible European Statistics?" The full text is here , with an executive summary at the beginning and the Commission's replies at the end.
Here are some brief excerpts, selected to stimulate the readers' curiosity.

"Half of the members of the European statistical system consider their institutional setting to be free of constraints on the principle of professional independence" (page 17). Nice to know that the glass is half full of credible statistics.

"Eurostat currently monitors reporting on improvement actions without verifying their implementations" (page 18). So we are up to date on promises and good intentions.

"The Commission itself does not yet fully comply with the code of practice" (page 19). Promises and good intentions.
"Eurostat's independence is less clearly defined than OLAF"s (still page 19). That explains a lot about Greek entry into the Monetary Union.

"Eurostat itself has not yet overcome problems with its own implementation of the code" (page 20). Promises and good intentions.

"Furthermore, the regulation on European statistics does not provide for a procedure allowing for inspections of statistical production processes from the initial data source to the final outcome, for cases where misrepresentations of data might have occurred. Without such a mechanism it is not possible to act swiftly in such cases. To be credible, such an inspection mechanism would also require independent supervision" (page 29).

The report runs to 59 pages, but instead of going on and on, let us try "ein kleines Gedankenexperiment" as Uncle Albert used to say. Imagine that we are the government of a Member State with national elections due in few months and an economy that has deteriorated badly on our watch. Option A; we honestly report the numbers proving our failure to Eurostat and hand power to the hated opposition. Option B; we report data that makes us look good and anticipate another four glorious years in power. In that situation a vast majority of politicians will go for the capital B. As things stand, the EU's statisticians have no way of resisting even the most laughable of national government data. It is better not to go too deeply into details, but there have been some openly defiant messages to Eurostat from national administrations.

A truly independent Eurostat would eliminate faking statistics as an option for politicians in search of reelection. This leads them make the accuracy of their reported numbers an issue of supposed "national sovereignty". Obviously false, because there is nothing patriotic in lying to the nation. The other rhetorical defense is to attack supposed power of "unelected technocrats". More nonsense, power to elect politicians remains with the voters. All that those awful "unelected technocrats" do is supply facts to the voters, making democracy more real.

So, sometimes the reports of an independent Eurostat would overturn Member State governments. As long as they were unbiased that would be a desirable situation. It is better that our governments tremble before a Eurostat that reports the truth than before the rating agencies and the so-called markets who are controlled by unknown interests.

This discussion has focused on Eurostat, but many other Directorates General, Agencies, Offices, etc. need more space in which to breathe and work.

Created by: admin last modification: Saturday 20 of October, 2012 [17:07:03 UTC] by admin

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