The advisory group of the European Comission for statistical questions, they censored in a statement the “public criticism” of the Spanish Government on the methods of calculating the National Statistics Institute (INE) and they recalled the “legal obligation” that public authorities have to respect the independence of these bodies.
‘Public interference with statistics compilation methods does excessive damage to society’s confidence in statistics. Especially when politicians criticize them because they paint a wrong image, because it is too negative, of socioeconomic events and, therefore, of the government’s work,” says the European Advisory Committee for Statistical Governance (ESGAB).
In the text, advisers to the European Comission They say they are “very concerned” about the context in which the “sudden” resignation of Juan Manuel Rodriguez Poo -president of the INE-, between “repeated public criticism” by “senior officials” of the Government on the methods of calculating the quarterly GDP and the inflation rate. This group of experts that advises the Community Executive points out that, in general, comments and criticisms about the work of national statistical agencies, including public voices, can be “useful” for the production of better statistics as long as they are based on sound scientific and technical analysis.
However, they add that if these criticisms come from “politicians and other legislative actors with powers over national statistical agencies (…) the comments may mean that the Government is giving instructions on how to collect the statistics.” In this line, remember that the European Statistics Code of Practice It stipulates that the directors of the national statistical institutes and of Eurostat “are solely responsible for deciding the statistical methods, standards and procedures, as well as the content and timing of the publication of the statistics”.
In addition, the experts emphasize that European legislation emphasizes that the directors of the national statistical offices “should not take instructions from any government or institution, body, office or entity”, as well as that this end “is not only an obligation for them but also for government officials who interact with them.
In this context, the president of the ESGAB, Aurel Schubert, stresses that respecting the independence of bodies such as the INE “is crucial for the integrity, reliability and trust in official statistics”, so “any action that undermines the professional independence of a national statistical institute must be denounced”.
The European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) was created in 2008 and has the legal mandate to offer an independent assessment of the application of the European Statistics Code of Practice. However, the opinions of this body of experts are not binding for the Community Executive.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission, in any case, told EFE on Wednesday that it “takes note” of the ESGAB statement and that the institution, together with Eurostat, is committed to ensuring that the production of statistics in the EU adheres to the principles of » impartiality, reliability, objectivity, statistical independence, cost effectiveness and statistical confidentiality».
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