Event Details

1 June 2015, 11.00-17.oo
European Commission – DG Research & Innovation
ORBAN Building – Room 5.A066
Square Frère Orban, 8
Brussels, Belgium

Event Description

A central goal of the Third Sector Impact project is to institutionalize the capability of national statistical agencies to generate reliable empirical data on the third sector. The United Nations Statistical Division’s  Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts offers guidance for generating at least a portion of such data, and the Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work by the International Labour Organization underlines that volunteering is a form of work that should be captured in national statistics. However, implementation of these statistical guidance documents in Europe has been slow, limiting the ability to assess the impact of the third sector. TSI recently published a consensus definition of the third sector in Europe, an important prerequisite for statistical agencies to implement data gathering systems that capture the third sector in its multifunctionality. Unified measures would also allow cross-national comparisons of third sector activity and impact.

The purpose of this event, co-organised by TSI and the DG Research & Innovation, was two-fold:

  1. To discuss the potential uses of data on the third sector in EU policy with European Commission officials and to define the elements of an EU agenda for statistical data on the third sector;
  2. To seek the active involvement of national statistical agencies in implementing the new procedures now available to begin making the key components of the third sector visible in European statistics, with an outlook to expand data on other components of the third sector over time.

The result exceeded all expectations: “A quiet revolution is underway in European statistical agencies with regard to the portrayal of the organizations and individual activity that comprise the third, or citizen, sector in Europe”, summarised TSI researcher Lester M. Salamon of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Bologna Center.

The general sense of this conference was summarized nicely by Ariane Rodert, vice president of the EESC committee representing citizen groups : “The third sector has been invisible in European statistics for too long. It is now time to bring this citizen sector into view so that we can better understand its important contributions and make better use of its talents and resources.” As Prof. Salamon noted, the statistical machinery for accomplishing this task is at hand. However, only three European countries have officially implemented the UN NPI Handbook–Portugal, the Czech Republic, and Norway. But from the evidence of the June 1st conference, a far larger number have significant implementation work under way. Indeed, a subterranian earthquake appears to be gathering force in European statistical agencies that seems poised to burst into view, confirming the Johns Hopkins Project findings and exposing officially the surprising truth that the third sector is one of the largest “industries” in Europe.

For more information on this conference and the work of different national statistical agencies read our Press Release refer to the TSI news section.

This seminar was organized as part of the TSI work with stakeholders, to integrate research into practice and policy making. For queries please contact: Ksenija Fonović – SPES – ksfonovic@spes.lazio.it – tel. ++39.06.44702178