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Reference metadata describe the contents and the quality of the statistical data. That is, they assist users with the interpretation of the data by providing information on statistical concepts and methodologies used for the collection as well as on data quality.

Eurostat is committed to providing reference metadata information for all European statistics. This follows the principle that no data should be collected without metadata. The Metadata Team, in cooperation with production units, ensures that:

  • All datasets in the navigation tree are covered by European metadata;
  • Whenever possible, national metadata are also disseminated. The availability of national reports, complementing a European report increases transparency, availability and comparability of information.

Standards for reference metadata

The Single Integrated Metadata Structure (SIMS) is a dynamic inventory and conceptual framework for all ESS quality and reference metadata concepts. It is also used as a reporting structure, for European and national metadata. The ESSC has endorsed the Single Integrated Metadata Structure (SIMS) standard in order to comply with the reporting obligations outlined in Article 12 of regulation 223/2009.

The Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS) contains all the concepts and sub-concepts that are required by a user to understand the data. This fully SDMX compliant reporting structure is widely used across statistical domains for the reporting of European and national metadata.

The Euro SDMX Metadata Structure – Indicator Profile (ESMS-IP) is based on the Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS). In addition, it comprises a short ‘quality box’ at the top providing users with a summary assessment of the main quality characteristics of an indicator. It is used for datasets which are part of an established indicator set such as SDGs and Europe 2020.

The ESS Standard Quality Report Structure (ESQRS) is a standard for the production and dissemination of quality reports within the ESS. ESQRS files provide users with detailed information for assessing the quality of the data sets released by Eurostat. This metadata structure is mainly used for national quality reports.

Processing European and national reference metadata

The ESS Metadata Handler (ESS MH) is the web application developed by Eurostat for supporting the production, management, exchange and dissemination of European and national reference metadata files based on the above-mentioned standards. The ESS MH is in production since 2014.

The diagram below presents the high level business process for reporting SDMX compliant reference metadata and the usage of the ESS Metadata handler. European and national reports are compiled by Eurostat and national competent authorities, respectively. Production units and Eurostat’s metadata team will validate the content and structure of European and national reports before they are disseminated on Eurostat’s Reference Database (Eurobase). 

(Edamis is the single entry point for all data and metadata entering Eurostat)

User guide

Training courses

Explanatory videos

Additional material

Eurostat metadata implementation glossary

European Statistical System handbook for quality and metadata reports (EHQMR)

Access to the tool

The ESS MH can be accessed here.

For access requests please send an email to your Super Provider (national metadata coordinator). Alternatively, access can be granted by Eurostat upon providing your EU login name and statistical domain / metadataflow/s of your interest to ESTAT-METADATA@ec.europa.eu

This application requires an active EU login account. Please register here if you do not yet have an account.

Contact information

For queries on metadata please send an email to ESTAT-METADATA@ec.europa.eu

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