France's official statistics department (SSP) contributes to the development of concepts and data at the European and global levels through its presence in international organisations. The commitment to produce data suitable for international comparisons is permanently at the forefront of preoccupations. For the United Nations, "official statistics are an indispensable component of the information system of a democratic society."
As well as recommendations on quality of dissemination, transparency, the impartial and scientific nature of statisticians' work, and ethical rules, the UN adds that "the use by statistical agencies in each country of internationally-defined concepts, classifications and methods encourages the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels."
Furthermore, European harmonisation has a strong and very direct influence on the work conducted by the French official statistics department. Most of the system's components (INSEE and ministerial statistical offices) are national statistical authorities, within the meaning assigned by EU statistical law (Regulation 223-2009). As such, they are in charge of relations with the international organisations and are the national authority for the production of European Community statistics in their spheres of competence. INSEE represents France on the ESS (European Statistical System Committee), where it submits French contributions to the construction of European statistics. The implementation of the European Statistics Code of Practice throughout the EU statistical system will enhance the cohesion of this system. The European Statistical Advisory Committee (ESAC) and the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB), both set up in 2008, are proof of a Europe-wide coordinating identity.
The French official statistics department system also regularly takes part in international cooperation work through assistance, training, and support missions. INSEE contributes to designing and implementing multilateral cooperation programmes under the aegis of international organisations (Eurostat, UN institutions, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund).
It manages bilateral and multilateral relations in the field of technical cooperation, an important channel for disseminating the know-how of SSP agents. Originally with a strong focus on African countries and Latin American partners, this system has since been gradually extended to central European countries, then to China and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, comprising 12 of the 15 former republics of the USSR). France was the driving force behind the creation of Afristat, the economic and statistical observatory of sub-Saharan Africa (CFA franc zone plus Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Cap Verde).