Istat is assuming an ever more prominent position at European and international level and has increased its attendance and involvement in supranational events.
In this context, it participates actively in the decision-making processes that underpin the construction and implementation of the European Statistical System and provides the expertise necessary for the development and harmonization of official statistics at international level.
Its international tasks include technical cooperation with developing and transition Countries. Over the last several years Istat has in fact provided technical assistance and training to these countries to strengthen their national statistics systems which have an increasingly larger scope.
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The demands arising from the objectives of harmonization and integration of statistical information in support of EU policies require the systematic presence of Istat as well as that of the national statistical institutes of the other Member States.
Istat's contribution assumes the form of increasing participation in the activities of committees, workgroups and task forces that meet at the Council of the European Union prior to the adoption of legislative acts; it also participates in interest groups in specific areas within Eurostat, which act as a forum for discussion on various statistical matters. These contribute to ensuring the necessary coordination and sharing of strictly technical aspects and to defining strategic and planning guidelines and orientations that converge more specifically in the Community Statistical Programme and the Annual Statistical Programme.
The Institute's activities in international relations primarily concern relations with the national statistical authorities of other Countries for the purpose of coordinating and developing both the European Statistical System (ESS) and the International Statistical System.
The Institute participates as a direct partner in decision-making processes regarding the definition and implementation of methodologies and standards for the harmonization of European statistics and also as a provider of information necessary for the production of European statistics under Regulation (EC) n. 223/09 of the Council of the European Union.
Istat also participates in European Research and Development projects, which are increasing in number under the drive of European unity, in the belief that the intellectual aptitudes of European researchers honed in different environmental, cultural and institutional contexts constitute a wealth of great potential that can be exploited as a common asset.
Istat's international cooperation activities centre mainly on so-called "Institutional capacity building", namely on strengthening the National Statistical Institutes of candidate, transition and developing Countries - a process that involves the transfer of knowledge, techniques, concepts, methodologies and classifications adopted by Istat and recognised internationally.
Istat's involvement in international cooperation projects has increased over the years. From an institutional point of view, this growth is due to a greater awareness of the role that statistics plays in providing a source of information essential to the development of economic and social policies adopted by governments. International donors such as the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Italy itself as a contributing partner are keen to ensure that recipient Countries of assistance funds are equipped with the means to produce official statistics that are reliable, impartial, transparent, relevant and timely - put briefly, high-quality statistics.
In this context, the task of the Office for International Relations and Cooperation is to promote Istat's participation in international projects and to coordinate all internal and external activities necessary to achieve the set objectives.
Cooperation activities basically involve providing the technical assistance of Istat experts to state institutions of beneficiary Countries in charge of producing public official statistics. Funding sources are mainly bilateral (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and multilateral (e.g. European Union).
In 15 years of statistical cooperation activities, Istat has collaborated with countries belonging to almost all geographical areas of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.