Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Sixth Report

15 Education statistics



COM(05) 625

Draft Regulation on the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning

Legal baseArticle 285(1) EC; co-decision; QMV
DepartmentEducation and Skills
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 14 July 2006
Previous Committee ReportHC 34-xx (2005-06), para 4 (1 March 2006)
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Previous scrutiny of the document

15.1 Since the mid-1990s, Eurostat has collected and disseminated statistics about education on the basis of "gentlemen's agreements" with Member States. The purpose of the proposed Regulation is to provide a legal base for the work and to improve the comparability, comprehensiveness and quality of statistics on education and lifelong learning in the Member States. The Commission considers this necessary so as to obtain reliable data for the formulation and monitoring of EC policies on, for example, employment, competitiveness and social and economic cohesion. It also argues that the statistics are required for co-operation between Member States on educational matters under Article 149 of the EC Treaty.

15.2 The draft Regulation refers to statistics in three "domains":

  • Domain 1 covers annual statistics on education and training systems, including data on costs, outputs and participation and completion rates.
  • Domain 2 covers statistics on participation in lifelong learning by people aged 25-64. Member States would be required to provide the data every five years.
  • Domain 3 covers education and lifelong learning statistics not covered by domains 1 and 2.

15.3 "Implementing measures" would deal with the selection of the subjects to be covered by the domains. The "implementing measures" would be decided through the Comitology procedure.[49]

15.4 When we considered the draft regulation in March,[50] the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education at the Department of Education and Skills (Bill Rammell) told us that that the draft Regulation would legitimise the current collection and analysis of the statistics to be covered by domains 1 and 2. But the scope of the third domain would be "entirely open-ended". This could lead to the imposition on Member States of requirements to collect data which would be contrary to the principle of subsidiarity. Moreover, the open-ended nature of domain 3 could result in excessive burdens on schools and other educational institutions.

15.5 We recognised the desirability of a Regulation to provide legal authority for Eurostat's continuing work on statistics about education and lifelong learning. But we agreed with the Minister that the provisions on domain 3 were drafted in such broad terms as to enable requirements to be imposed on Member States which could be excessive. We asked for his views on whether it would be desirable if the Council, rather than the Commission, were responsible for the adoption of the implementing measures.

The Minister's letter of 14 July 206

15.6 The Minister tells us that as a result of the negotiations on the Regulation, all 25 Member States have reached agreement that domain 3 should apply only to existing data. There is, therefore, no scope for the Commission to impose new collections or the expansion of existing collections. The Commission has expressed a general reservation about this on the grounds that it restricts flexibility.

15.7 Our question about whether it would be better if the Council decided the implementing measures falls. This is because the agreement to confine domain 3 to existing data means that new or different collections could not be imposed through Comitology. Moreover, the Minister says that he is confident that the UK's representation on the relevant committees is sufficient to resist any proposals for unacceptable burdens in the collection of data in domains 1 and 2.


15.8 We are glad that Member States have agreed to limit the scope of domain 3 so that excessive data protection obligations cannot be imposed on them and educational institutions. In the light of the Minister's letter, we are now content to clear the document from scrutiny.

49   Comitology is the system of committees which oversees the exercise by the Commission of legislative powers delegated to it by the Council and the European Parliament. Comitology committees are made up of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the Commission. Back

50   See headnote. Back

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