The Future of Access to European Confidential Data for Scientific Purpose
Jean-Marc Museux
Methodology and Research, Eurostat, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

The paper contributes to the development of a vision for the future of access to European confidential data for scientific purpose.

European confidential microdata are more and more available. They are obtained from the compilation of microdata collected by National Statistical Organisations (NGO) by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU). They are the result of Eurostat's action aiming at harmonising data collection throughout Europe whenever possible. They are unique source of information for comparative research and detailed policy analysis in the EU. Eurostat is promoting their use for scientific purpose as a public return on investment made in carrying pan European large scale data collection.

Currently, EU micro data are available in an anonymised (deconfidentialited) version sent under contract to researchers and through direct access in the Eurostat data safe centre located in Luxembourg. The development of secure communication over internet allows for different modes of release like remote access or decentralised access without jeopardising the protection of confidential data.

The paper discusses the different ways to allow secure access to confidential data in a more user friendly and a cost efficient way in an international environment. Recognising that in heterogeneous environment it is almost impossible to develop a universal solution, the solution should be multi mode and procedures and risks should be adapted to the different context, in particular to the national framework.

The long term solution promoted by the paper is a decentralised/distributed approach drawing on the possibilities provided by information technology balancing standardisation, delegation, security and costs aspects. The system should be supported by a strong metadata and traceability system. The paper will heavily draw on the results of a feasibility study carried out by a network of EU NGO's (ESSnet of decentralised access to EU confidential data) available at

Keywords: Confidential data access; Statistical confidentiality; Remote access; European statistical system

Biography: Senior statistician. Methodogist. Working in Eurostat since 2001. Head of section methodology. Responsible for statistical confidentiality in Eurostat. Former experience in Income and Living Conditions Statistics (EU-SILC). Domain of interest: business architecture, standardisation, survey methodology, data integration, statistical confidentiality.