Looking at the figures

We had a press briefing this morning with Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical office. They were here to talk interested journalists through their new website. Over my years as a Spokeswoman I had the misfortune to talk journalists through the old version so was really impressed by the new site, which is much more user-friendly.

Particularly interesting were:

the country profile section, where you can set up custom tables, comparing one country with another, or with the average, or other parameters;

the structural indicators, which groups together those statistics that are most important for EU policy development – where there are targets agreed at EU level, for example.

the statistics database. Here there are main tables, where certain sets of data are already set up as tables, graphs and maps, but the user can cutomise the settings to get the graph s/he wants, or simply download the data to produce her/his own representations. Or if there’s a specific data set the user wants, s/he can use the database to create it.

You can register to get regular updates whenever new stats are put up on the site in a particular policy area, as well as a RSS feed for the news releases.

At all bits of the site, there is information about the methodology used, which is important from our point of view to make sure we are comparing apples and apples. There are still some differences in how statistics are presented, with governments presenting some at national level with slightly different methodology, usually for historical reasons, but also because of things such as a different financial year. So being open about our methodology allows proper comparison.

It might all seem a bit geeky, but I think it’s really important that there is a good statistical site to allow credible comparison at EU level. And I think Eurostat have managed to do so very well, steering a difficult course between being accessible to the ordinary person, and at the same time useful for experts.

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