Monitoring major enterprises within Europe

/ Author: Miriam van der Sangen
Ken Arentsen, Dries Butink, Ilse Gubbels Cyrille Pluijmen are all members of the Dutch LCU project team.
© Hollandse Hoogte / Lex van Lieshout
Several years ago, Statistics Netherlands established a Large Cases Unit (LCU) to facilitate the collection of consistent data on 360 large and complex enterprises in the Netherlands. The majority of these are Multinational Enterprises (MNEs). The LCU team is currently taking part in a Eurostat project that allows sharing of the related knowledge and expertise among the statistical offices in the ESS member states.

Data quality

MNEs deliver data as input for a large number of important economic statistics produced by CBS. The past few decades have been marked by a true upsurge in economic globalisation; information on this development has been difficult to capture in the traditional questionnaires and hard to process during the compilation of the National Accounts. Together with the National Accounts department, the Dutch LCU therefore developed an application that allows for quick comparison of relevant data from financial statistics (e.g. on turnover, wage costs, EBIT, imports and exports). In addition, account managers were introduced who went out to visit the enterprises to discuss these data and their correlation so as to ensure adequate processing into statistics. This improved the quality of the data significantly as a result, in turn enhancing their connection to the National Accounts.

Ken Arentsen, Dries Butink, Ilse Gubbels Cyrille Pluijmen are all members of the Dutch LCU project team.

Training

As members of the LCU, Dries Butink (Account Manager) and Ken Arentsen (Deputy Head) were closely involved in the process on behalf of CBS: “Other NSIs around Europe have been interested in how we produce consistent figures on MNEs for years. We have given presentations on this topic at Eurostat meetings and the feedback we got from other member states was that turning theory into practice is still tricky. Traditionally, the statistical offices work as ‘stovepipes’ whereas an LCU looks further than that. Eurostat offered financial support for the transfer of knowledge and expertise to other statistical offices, and CBS was eligible for this funding in view of its years of accumulated knowledge on MNEs. Butink: ”This project goes beyond explaining theory. The participating countries receive our practical advice, which is tailored to their own concrete situation.”

“We like to share our knowledge and expertise on this topic and we hope that in the coming years, this Eurostat project will be continued in a structural manner.”

Experiences

Butink and Arentsen visited Eurostat in Luxembourg last February to discuss the setup of this training programme with their Swedish, Danish and Irish colleagues. Butink: “Last April, we delivered a training course at the German NSI (Destatis) in Wiesbaden. They received a questionnaire in advance to give us an idea about their existing situation: their organisation structure, their present practices, the available data, their staff and their goals. Then we planned on-site interviews with specialists on relevant statistics. Based on that we planned interviews with individual specialists on certain statistics and that information was then used to prepare for our presentations.” According to Arentsen, Germany has a rather complex structure given their decentralised organisation: “In our advice we put emphasis on specific data checks which they can already conduct to construct form a proper basis for data consistency. In addition, they need to provide more transparency in their processing of the data after an enterprise has submitted them. Furthermore, CBS recommended developing a tool that can go through all kinds of statistical systems to check the data for relevancy. An automated process saves a lot of time.”

Practical case studies

Swedish colleagues are in Hungary at the moment to deliver a training course to the statistical office of Hungary. Later this year, the Danish and the Irish LCUs will be presenting training sessions in Greece and Lithuania. Early next year, CBS will visit Statbel (Belgium) to exchange knowledge and expertise. Follow-up training sessions will be taking place over the course of next year in all these countries which will focus on various practical case studies.