Indicators for European Union Policies. Business as Usual?

Abstract

This paper looks at the role of statistics-based knowledge in the making of EU policy. We highlight shortcomings in the use of statistical indicators made in the course of the Lisbon strategy, ended in 2010. In our opinion the shortcomings are: (i) The paradox of the coexistence within the same European Commission of two holistic frameworks: the Structural Indicators and the Sustainable Development Indicators. One does not understand which of these two systems is taken to measure the overall policy performance of the European Union. (ii) A communication issue whereby the Lisbon strategy and its offspring EU 2020 are not communicated (Lisbon is to the average citizen the capital of Portugal) and are especially not communicated in relation to existing statistical indicators of good quality, against the opinion of academicians that transparency and accountability based on sound statistics favour democracy and participation. We illustrate the reasons that lead us to see these points as problematic and offer suggestions on how these should be tackled in line with the practices developed in the Open Method of Coordination. The danger is that in the absence of a debate on the issue, these shortcomings be perpetuated in the EU 2020 strategy.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Note that there are variations in the OMC modalities and procedures according to the policy area covered.

  2. 2.

    The OMCs related to the social cohesion (social inclusion, pensions, and health care and long-term care for the eldery) were condensed into a separate “Social Protection and Social Inclusion OMC”.

  3. 3.

    The governance structure of the Lisbon strategy was totally overhauled with member states given more latitude in reporting their own progress via their annual country reports.

  4. 4.

    More latitude is given to Member States in preparing their national reform programmes and reporting their own progress via their annual country reports.

  5. 5.

    See http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,2987,en_32252351_32235731_1_1_1_1_1,00.html.

  6. 6.

    See http://www.doingbusiness.org/economyrankings/.

  7. 7.

    See http://www.arwu.org/, and http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/.

  8. 8.

    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/structural_indicators/introduction, accessed June 2 2010.

  9. 9.

    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/sdi/introduction, accessed June 2 2010.

  10. 10.

    http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/score/docs/score20_en.pdf.

  11. 11.

    See e.g. the soft power praised by Rifkin (2004).

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Acknowledgments

A very preliminary version of this work was published as technical report of the European Commission—Joint Research Centre (Saltelli et al. 2010). Useful comments to were received by several colleagues, including foremost Anders Hingel (Education and Culture) and, Radek Maly (Employment). The responsibility for the text's limitations and errors rests with the authors.

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Correspondence to Andrea Saltelli.

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The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the European Commission.

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Saltelli, A., D’Hombres, B., Jesinghaus, J. et al. Indicators for European Union Policies. Business as Usual?. Soc Indic Res 102, 197–207 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-010-9678-4

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Keywords

  • Lisbon strategy
  • Indicators