Censuses provide a precise and geographically detailed account of population characteristics. This makes them a rich source for analysis, providing key inputs for policy, administration and research. At the EU level, national results are of greater value if they can be compared between Member States, so the EU has been taking continuous steps to harmonise outputs.
The 2021 round also comes at a time of fundamental transition: administrative data sources have become the backbone of the next census in most Member States. This brings efficiency gains, leading to more powerful census systems and addressing fast-evolving user expectations, where the regional detail is increasingly important. A dedicated law to publish key census topics on an EU-wide 1 km² grid is a major innovation here. It will allow for much more flexible analysis, even at cross-border level, tailored to research or policy needs. This publication explains the EU legislation for the 2021 census round, with a focus on the new grid data. [+]