Producing comparable data on international trade in services is a complex challenge for the ENP-S countries

MEDSTAT IV organised a workshop to respond to the urgent need expressed by the ENP-S countries for better applying the new international standards for trade in services. A representative from the UN Statistical Department, responsible for the new recommendations, brought light on the changes made on definitions, standards and classification of services in the balance of payments.

BoP_MaltaTo quantify trade in services is by nature far more difficult than to quantify the exchanges of goods. One of the main reason is that the services are more difficult to define. Some of them are defined by abstracted notions and not by physical characteristics or functions. For trade in services, contrary to trade in goods, there is no package crossing a custom border, with a bar code, a description of the content, the destination; in general, there is no invoice and no direct system to apply custom duties. Once the exchange is made, the information gathered depends on agreements on common concepts that are taken by the two side of the transaction. Thus, several possible sources of information have to be mixed in order to track down the value of the exchange. This makes it complex.

The representatives of the ENP-S countries, from both statistical offices, Central banks and other organisations involved in the compilation of the Balance of payments, gathered in Malta on April 2-4, 2019. It was an opportunity for them to present and discuss the respective situations in the countries regarding the implementation of the new recommendations. They raised numerous questions on the details of the new concepts and norms and received targeted advices that should lead to an improvement in the comparability of their production of trade in services statistics.


For more information, please contact

UNSD-Trade web-page:

Drawing benefits from the harmonisation of methods for the compilation of Energy balances

MEDSTAT IV discusses with the MED countries the finalisation of a regional publication (Vienna, 26-28 march 2019)

Statisticians from the ENP-S countries have been very keen at harmonising their energy balances with the norms of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and of Eurostat. In the last few years, with the support of MEDSTAT IV, they consolidated their methods and processes, assessed regularly the progress made and exchanged views among them and with experts from the IEA and the EU. The results of this long investment are today ready to be released under the form of a regional publication of comparable energy balances.

The publication, which will be disseminated at the end of May 2019, will present the balances 2017 for each country with a methodological annex and a regional analysis. The meeting focused on the last technical validation of the balances and on the final content and organisation of the future publication.

The meeting was also the opportunity to discuss another publication that will be also available at the end of May and that will concern SDG-related indicators related in particular to energy efficiency for the transport sector.


For more information,

Better assessing road transport in the MED countries

MEDSTAT IV gathers in Munich statisticians to discuss a regional manual (March 12-14, 2019)

Road transport is an important component of transport statistics in the MED countries, for both merchandises and passengers. It was thus just a matter of time before they decide to work on a common methodology, inspired by the EU standards. The end product of the regional work will be a manual on statistics for road freight transport that will present a synthesis of the existing International and European technical references in this area, describe the local context in each MED country and propose recommendations for rules and standards tailored to the needs in the MED region. The participants agreed to review the work at successive steps of the finalisation of the manual and to make every efforts for the publication to be released at the end of May.

The meeting was also the opportunity to address air transport and in particular the statistical systems in the airports. Mirror analyses show that they may be differences in the estimations of the flows of freight and passengers between outbound and inbound airports, even if they record the same number of flights. These differences may be studied for the good of the valuation of the exchanges among countries.


For more information,

Bridging the gap between statistics and the people who use them!

MEDSTAT IV discussed the results achieved with two project’s targeted activities aiming at improving the relation between statisticians and journalists and at increasing the capacities for data visualisation (Bordeaux, February 27-28, 2019)


The journalists are important users of statistics as they relay information to different other categories of users. If they understand the data, what they say and how they are build, they may be in a better position to analyse them and to relay an information of quality. This may in turn have an impact on the level of trust and confidence that people put on official statistics. After an intense work at the regional level, MEDSTAT IV coached national teams to prepare and deliver training projects involving statisticians and journalists (Communication for statistics – C4S). The national teams developed country-tailored processes of different kind from training courses involving only statisticians to ones involving only journalists or to courses for both audiences. In most countries, only one course was delivered (2 or 3 days) but in Israel and Morocco, the processes developed as series of articulated workshops on different statistical topics.

The country experiences were presented and discussed in all their details and all the statistical offices present in the meeting acknowledged the usefulness and the interest of improving the relations with the journalists and to make the exercise an integral part of their regular training programmes. They all agree that there are mutual benefits from a deeper relation.

There are today in the region more than 20 persons who have been trained to the C4S tools and approach and have a hands-on experience in delivering such training course; there is plenty of training material available developed by the project and by the national teams. There is thus a large potential for replicating the course and adjust it to different levels in the relation statisticians/journalists.


The way people consume information and statistics has evolved dramatically in the last 5 years, this being mainly a consequence of the rapid development of the social media. Statisticians must today satisfy an audience of users who wants quick and attractive answers. Traditional dissemination products for statistics don’t match this new demand; the statistical offices must adjust quickly and develop data visualisation tools that better correspond to the needs. Doing this requires the mobilisation of capacities and tools that may not exist in the statistical offices: there is a need for investing in software and applications as well as in the strengthening of human resources. In a time when budgets are scarce, there is a benefit to draw in exchanging experiences, identifying good practices and sharing investments.

Each country presented in turn the data visualisation products it developed in the recent years, such as infographics, videos, visual animations, alone or with the support of the project. The development of all these products was made as a collaborative effort between different capacities: statisticians, designers, communication experts, IT people. Most of them were also tested with users’ groups in order to check their relevance. What was presented during the meeting was of very fine quality and the region is filling quickly the gap. There are still needs for more training and more sharing of good practices.


For more information, please contact

A business register of good quality may give a strong push up to the statistical system of a country

MEDSTAT IV brings together business registers specialists of the MED countries to discuss the determinants of quality in this area and to compare their respective experiences


MEDSTAT IV organised a technical workshop in Lisbon on February 19, 2019 to discuss the determinants of quality for business registers and ways to improve it.  The event gathered representatives from all the ENP-S countries, from both the statistical offices and from partner institutions involved in the management of the business registers. Two specialists, from INSEE and ISTAT, were also invited in order to present the way quality was addressed in their respective organisations.

The expert from INSEE focused her intervention on the application of the Code of good practices for statistics in the specific area of business registers and surveys. The expert from ISTAT presented in details the regular confrontation between results from economic surveys and from administrative data. From these two very well documented presentations, the participants had a chance to tackle various aspects of quality in the business registers and to identify very concrete ways to improve the existing processes. A particular important aspect of quality for the registers is the extent and the content of the inter-administrative cooperation among those institutions who gather data on businesses. There is a lot to gain in running regularly quality assessments.

On February 20, the MEDSTAT IV working group on Business registers and statistics met for its fifth time to review the work done during 2018, to assess the main results achieved and discuss their impact on the statistical situation in the region. The Working group also debated the future priorities for its work programme in 2019 and beyond. The extension of the coverage of the registers to the agriculture businesses, to the informal sector and to the non-profit institutions remains a common concern in the region.


For more information, please contact

Measuring international migration in the ENP-South countries

Jointly with the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), MEDSTAT IV organised a new regional workshop on the experiences and tools related to MED-HIMS (Ankara, 14-16 FeFamily Photobruary 2019)

The Mediterranean Household International Surveys (MED-HIMS) Programme represents a comprehensive instrument for informing about the determinants and consequences of international migration. It was developed partly as a sub-initiative of MEDSTAT and involved most of its members (at the only exception of Israel) and allows collecting data, from households and individuals, on out-migration, return migration, immigration and forced migration and the perception and intention of migration.

The 10th MED-HIMS Workshop, which was held at SESRIC Headquarters on 14-16 February 2019, had the priority purpose to discuss the experiences of implementation of the Egypt-HIMS 2013, the Jordan-HIMS 2014 and mainly the Phase 1 of the Morocco-HIMS 2018/2019 as well as to review the latest available versions of the model manuals for data collection. The event was organised back-to-back with the 3rd Meeting of the Expert Group on Refugees and IDPs Statistics, and attended by representatives from all the participating ENP-South countries, three from the MED-HIMS Programme Steering Committee members (i.e. UNHCR, IOM and ILO), the ICMPD, SESRIC, the MED-HIMS Project Implementation Unit and MEDSTAT IV.

The workshop mainly highlighted the importance of producing frequent results on international migration as to stay aligned with rather evolving national and international frameworks and recommendations and requirements such as the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The discussions also addressed towards the collection of data using Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI), the further sharing of the experiences and tools among the involved countries and using the national results for comparative analysis.

As a main outcome, the revised ‘standard’ version and the ‘light’ version of the MED-HIMS Model Questionnaires and other model manuals for data collection will be soon finalised and disseminated under MEDSTAT IV in view of their use around 2020 in Tunisia and possibly Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Palestine (depending on the international funding).












For more information, please contact

Assessing the quality of the statistical business registers in the ENP-S countries

MEDSTAT IV organises a technical workshop in Lisbon on February 19, 2019

 A reliable business register is a key asset for a statistical office, and not only for designing and implementing surveys on businesses. The register is also a key tool for many other topics such as the structure of the production capacities, employment, the national accounts, external trade statistics and more detailed statistics for specific sectors of economic activities. This is why there is a strong interest in the statistical offices for establishing and maintaining a business register that is of good quality.

After having addressed the creation of the business registers and their regular updating at the occasion of several technical events in the past 3 years, MEDSTAT IV is now opening the discussion on quality with the ENP-South countries. Two representatives from each of the countries, one from the statistical office and another from a partner institution, will meet in Lisbon and will debate on different issues attached to the quality of the business registers such as the reconciliation between the results of the censuses of establishments and the administrative sources. They will also assess the best ways to translate the recommendations of the code of practices in this particular sector.

To facilitate the discussion, two experts from the EU statistical system, from INSEE-France and ISTAT-Italy, will present their respective country experiences and answer the questions of the participants.

On February 20, the working group on business register and statistics will meet for the last time under the MEDSTAT IV to assess the results achieved so far and identify future priorities for the EU-MED cooperation on statistics in this specific area. The working group meeting will be an opportunity to address the question of the impact of the activities that have been implemented under the MEDSTAT IV project and to update the monitoring and evaluation system.


For more information contact

Working together may lead to better answer the demand for statistics regarding the measurement of the Sustainable Development Goals: the ENP-S countries advocate for creating a specific working group on the SDGs in the framework of the EU-MED cooperation in statistics

104.SDG_Athens_6-7.02.19On February 6-7 2019, MEDSTAT IV organised a meeting on the measurement of the SDGs which took place in Athens and gathered representatives from the ENP-S statistical systems, from Eurostat, from three EU countries statistical institutes (Stats Denmark, ISTAT and INSEE), from the UfM, UN-ESCWA and the EEA.

On the demand of the ENP-S countries, MEDSTAT IV re-oriented its sector activities in order to focus more on the measurement of the SDGs. This issue is a key challenge for the ENP-S countries statistical systems in particular for the pressure it puts on the structure and content of the statistical production but also on the resources available for statistics, human, technical and financial. After having addressed the issue through the existing sector working groups, in particular the ones related to labour market statistics, migration statistics and Energy/transport statistics, and through a specific training course, the project called for a specific regional meeting on the SDGs.

The objective of the meeting was first to discuss the “state of the art” in each of the ENP-S countries: what had been done and with which results and problems. Experiences in the North were brought as examples to consider in the discussion that followed on what to do next. Questionnaires were sent to the ENP-S countries in advance of the meeting which helped drafting a detailed synthesis which can serve as a benchmark for the future discussions. The second objective was to bring into the debate complementary perspectives on the existing regional statistics platforms for the SDGs (Eurostat, UN-ESCWA) and on the role statistics could play in feeding sector policy agendas with relevant data (for Gender in the case of the UfM and for Environment in the case of the EEA).

The discussions covered a large ground with a focus on the necessary coordination (within the national statistical systems and with policy makers, with regional and international platforms and between these platforms), the identification of the national and regional priorities among the large number of targets and indicators composing the international SDG framework and the dissemination of the indicators.

The group advocated for the creation of a specific working group on this topic in the framework of the EU-MED cooperation in statistics. It also identified several possible activities that could constitute a relevant regional work programme, building on the regular sharing of experiences, the identification and replication of good practices and investments in training.


For more information, please contact:

Skill mismatch in the labour market: measuring for better informing decision-making

Jointly with European Training Foundation, MEDSTAT IV organised a technical workshop on measuring the Qualifications and Skills in the ENP-South Countries with focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Turin, on 29-30 January 2019.

The MEDSTAT IV working group on Labour market statistics deliberately chose to focus its work on the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular on the indicators relevant for the labour market, the employment and the employability of people (SDG-8 and SDG-4). Recently established by ILO, the guidelines concerning measurement of qualifications and skills mismatches of persons in employment, have been the object of the discussions that were held in Turin between the representatives of the ENP-S countries and specialists the ETF, the Department of Statistics of ILO, and experts from MEDSTAT IV.

The workshop highlighted the importance of skill mismatch in the labour market, showing outcomes and analysis of the causes and consequences, as well as the relevance of the comparability of national statistics following the international requirements. Mismatch varies by occupation and level of education, there can be regional differences and variances across sectors. Many ENP-South countries have already implemented or started to implement the collection and calculation of indicators that allow to identify, monitor, and analyse skill mismatch. Experiences and ideas from countries belonging to other regions as well as an enhanced collaboration with international organisations can be used to provide ideas and templates for national approaches. Among other, identifying mismatch in the microdata of large operations such as the Labour Force Surveys may lead to better analyse mismatch with respect to the many involved dimensions (regions, sector, occupation, qualification, demographics).

The 5th working group meeting of the sector of labour market statistics, which was held in the same venue on 31 January 2019, endorsed the recent and ongoing joint work on the measurement of the decent work, the skills and competences and the participation of women in the labour market, with a sustained priority attention to the SDGs. It was the occasion to agree on future priorities and in particular on the consolidation of the work initiated on skills and qualifications.







For more information, please contact

Regional workshop on data quality management and the development of analytical capacities in transport statistics in Brussels on the 27-28 November 2018.

Quality statistics to feed analysis in the transport sector.

The project MEDSTAT IV organised a Regional workshop on data quality management and the development of analytical capacities in transport statistics in Brussels on the 27-28 November 2018.


Transport statistics are primarily produced to respond to users’ needs and to support evidence-based policy decision making. Reaching this goal requires, first, to produce high-quality data on all transport modes and, second, to develop user-friendly analytical tools that will allow enriching the quality statistics with insights on the context and the perspectives of the observed evolutions in the sector. In this respect, one of the major challenges for policy makers is to use transport statistics on past and current evolutions to produce forecasts. Specific models are available that do exactly that.

The first objective of this workshop was precisely to exchange on the challenges faced in using transport statistics for producing forecasts. These forecasts are essential to defining overall transport policies and making decisions on specific infrastructure projects. This exchange benefitted from a detailed presentation of the experience of France in this field. This discussion resulted in the adoption of a roadmap for the development of analytical capacities on transport statistics in the partner countries.

The production of forecasts and, more generally, of high-quality analyses requires disposing of high-quality statistics. One of the key objectives of the MEDSTAT IV project is to contribute to improve quality of statistics, focusing on their harmonisation with EU and international standards, through in particular the implementation of the Statistics Code of Practice for the European Neighbourhood South countries.

The workshop intended to deal with all aspects of data collection and compilation up to the validation stage and to present tools and procedures that could be implemented to ensure the quality of the data. The discussion resulted in the adoption of another regional roadmap addressing the production of higher-quality transport statistics across the Mediterranean partner countries. This roadmap mostly relies on the implementation of a specific self-assessment questionnaire based on the ENP-South Statistics Code of Practice and adapted to the area of transport statistics.

The ENP-S countries have been given 4 months to prepare these road maps and to start implement them. The project will follow closely on this work programme and will provide technical assistance if and when needed.


For more information contact