STEP (Statistics Through Eastern Partnership) is a European Union funded regional programme managed by Eurostat and implemented by the consortium led by Expertise France. The overall purpose is to further develop statistics in the six partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine . This will be done by adopting international and European standards when data are collected, processed and published. Additional and higher quality statistics will increase transparency and value in political decision-making. Better policies should lead to economic growth and better life.
Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union situated in Luxembourg. Its mission is to provide high quality statistics for Europe. Expertise France is the French public international cooperation agency based in Paris. The other members of the consortium are European Union Member States’ national statistical institutes: INSEE (France), HCSO (Hungary), ISTAT (Italy), Statistics Lithuania and Statistics Denmark.
The programme started in 2019 and runs for 3 years with a total budget of 4.7 million euros. It targets the national statistical institutes in the partner countries as well as other producers of official statistics, such as the central banks and line ministries. Representatives from the relevant organisations will participate in training, workshops and study visits with peers from the other countries. Other activities in the programme include pilot surveys, regional publications, virtual groups along with technical assistance missions. The activities are carried out by experienced statisticians primarily from EU member states.
The activities strive to reach four main results in the partner countries:
1. Improve production and dissemination of high quality statistics in line with international and European standards;
2. Harmonise statistical methodologies with international and European standards;
3. Strengthening the institutional capacity of NSOs in the region in accordance with the principles set out in the Code of standards for European statistics;
4. Enhance evidence-based policy-making through increasing the amount of reliable statistics.
STEP provides support in macro-economic statistics, social statistics and cross-cutting issues. Improved macro-economic statistics will make it easier to follow trends in the overall economy and specific sectors such as SME development, use of information and communication techonology (ICT) in enterprises and road freight transport. Improved social statistics include better data on the labour market through modern data collection methods as well as more comprehensive data on gender issues among others. The cross-cutting efforts include training in coordination of the national statistical system and training of statisticians and journalists in better understanding each other and provide better dissemination of data. See the work programme tab for all areas of intervention.
The regional aspect is important. The six partner countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, are also known as the Eastern Partnership countries. The Eastern Partnership is a joint initiative involving the EU, its member states and these six countries. The countries share a common past and their administrative systems are similar, although having evolved independently in recent years. The regional aspect is fostered in STEP by building networks at the personal and professional level and encouraging participants to learn from each other.
 The participation of Belarus representatives at any level in STEP is currently suspended.
Launched in 2009 as a joint policy initiative, the Eastern Partnership (EaP) aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. In 2019, the Eastern Partnership celebrated its 10-year anniversary.