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The network of international, EU, and French classifications of activities and products: a coordinated revision in 2008

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Modernization and international comparability were the two main goals of France’s in-depth revision of its classifications of activities and products, whose tangible result was the introduction of NAF Rev. 2 and CPF Rev. 2 on January 1, 2008.2 The operation formed part of a process coordinated at the international, European Union, and French levels. The 2008 revision of classifications is a complex task involving a large cast of players. Its success owes much to the implementation of an approach that combines consultative dialogue and efficiency. France played a major role in developing the new international network of classifications of activities and products. The new French classification of activities is slightly more detailed than its predecessor, and is now very effectively interlinked with the EU system.
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The network of international, EU, and
French classifications of activities and
1products: a coordinated revision in 2008
! Thierry Lacroix*
Modernization and international comparability were the two main goals of France’s in-depth revision of its classifications
of activities and products, whose tangible result was the introduction of “NAF Rev. 2” and “CPF Rev. 2” on January 1,
22008. The operation formed part of a process coordinated at the international, European Union, and French levels.
The “2008 revision” of classifications is a complex task involving a large cast of players. Its success owes much to
the implementation of an approach that combines consultative dialogue and efficiency. France played a major role in
developing the new international network of classifications of activities and products. The new French classification of
activities is slightly more detailed than its predecessor, and is now very effectively interlinked with the EU system.
he revised French classifications of remained untouched: only around Tactivities and products—n AF and forty nAF classes were concerned.
c PF—were introduced on January 1, The operation planned for 2007 was
2008. n AF Rev. 2 and c PF Rev. 2 have of an altogether different nature (it
thus replaced n AF Rev. 1 and c PF was eventually delayed one year to
Rev. 1, which had been in effect since January 1, 2008, at european and
January 1, 2003. The project took French levels).
about seven years to complete, which,
Despite the 2003 “facelift,” the network on the face of it, may seem a long
of classifications of activities and time. Yet the operation was conducted
products had largely been designed without pause. Indeed, the prevailing
in the 1980s and implemented in the impression was a lack of time to
early 1990s. It had aged owing to explore various options more deeply
technological progress and changes in or check the consistency of certain
the economic and social organization choices. The main reason why it took a
of firms. In addition, some countries full seven years to carry out the “2008
had developed specific classifications revision” was the sheer scale of the
that were more modern but project, given the implications of the
incompatible with those in european changes introduced and the size and
French classifications of activities and products
number of economic classifications
concerned. But the time required
was also due to the complexity * Thierry Lacroix is Head of the classifications
Division and Deputy Head of the Standards and of the revision, a consequence
Information Systems Unit in InSee’s Statistical
decided on a five-yearly revision of of the networked structure of the c oordination and International Relations
the international classifications of Directorate.classifications: classifications of
1. o riginally published as “Le réseau des activities and products, ISIc and activities, classifications of products, nomenclatures internationales, européennes et
cPc. These revisions are, alternately, françaises d’activités et produits: une révision and customs classifications—all three
coordonnée en 2008,” Courrier des statistiques light and heavy. The five-year cycle implemented at three geographic
(French series), no. 125, nov.-Dec. 2008,
matches the frequency of the updating levels: international, european, and pp. 37-44, http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/docs_ffc/
cs125%20g.pdf.of the Harmonized System (HS), the national.
2. In keeping with standard usage, and for the international customs classification.
sake of concision, we shall refer to the first
A light revision was carried out in revision of the French classification of activities
as “nAF Rev. 1” and to the second as “nAF the early 2000s. In consequence, Context and objectives
Rev. 2” or simply nAF where there is no risk
France implemented nAF Rev. 1 and of the revision of ambiguity. The same applies to nAce, cPA,
and cPc. For a key to abbreviations and a brief cPF Rev. 1 on January 1, 2003.
presentation of the classifications and their
The 30th session of the U.n. The changes were merely cosmetic.
terminology, see Box 1 and the explanatory
Statistical commission in March 1999 The concepts and overall structure sheet inserted in this issue.
courrier des statistiques, english series no. 15, 2009 37
Source: InSeeThierry Lacroix
use. Two examples are the totally new ISIc and cPc are crucial, for they This harmonization required sufficient
north American Industry classification apply—by construction—to the discussion time among europeans.
System (nAIcS) introduced in north european and French classifications, In the event of divergence between
which are nested in the international the MSs—a fairly common American Free Trade Agreement
occurrence—the MSs could defend (nAFTA) countries in 1997 and the classifications.
their individual positions at the U.n., contemporary Standard Industrial
In this context, the U.n. technical but with less chance of success. classification for Japan (JSIc).
subgroup (Un-TSG) acts in an essential The eU organization thus made it
Because the system of classifications capacity as proposal originator. The hard to provide a timely, coordinated
was obsolete (at world level and Un-TSG is an international gathering response to U.n. proposals and, even
european level) and inconsistent, a of approximately fifteen members more so, to initiate proposals.
including national statisticians and more drastic overhaul was required.
international organizations such The eU relied on the nAce-cPA Preparations therefore began for a far
as oec D, FAo , World Tourism Working Group, acting as steering deeper revision involving a reappraisal
o rganization, and eurostat. France and validation body, while ad hoc of the concepts, aggregated
Task Forces developed proposals. structures, and detailed categories of is privileged to be one of the three
All MSs were consulted in writing in all classifications in the network. european countries represented in the
order to define common eU positions subgroup. In fact, it is currently one of
The two main objectives of the “2008 based on Task Force proposals. For the very few eU countries to belong to
each classification, the first step revision” of classifications of activities all international and european bodies
was to collect MS proposals, taking and products were accordingly as in charge of classifications.
the initial U.n. or eurostat drafts as follows:
The Un-TSG began its work in 2001, starting points.
– modernization, to better reflect meeting approximately twice a year. It
Some French proposals were intended economic developments of the past completed key steps in the process,
for use in developing the national twenty years conducting international consultations
strategy in international and eU often based on questionnaires. These
negotiations; others concerned the – improving comparability of the main successive rounds allowed the
construction of French classifications. classification systems used in the world, subgroup:
Both types were prepared by InSee’s to facilitate international comparisons
classifications Division in cooperation of economic data (Box 2). – first, to collect the main desiderata
with the network of “sector-specific of countries and international
statistical offices,” i.e., ministerial organizations
Organization of revision statistical offices (Services Statistiques
arrangements Ministériels: SSMs) and In See – second, to validate the conceptual
Departments in charge of individual choices and aggregate structure of
Given the network organization of economic sectors.the future international classifications
the classifications of activities and
products and the number of their – lastly, in 2004, to finalize the draft The broad outlines and draft national
users, the “2008 revision” process of the detailed structure of ISIc Rev. 4 classifications were submitted to
concerned a multitude of actors. It as well as its explanatory notes. the French national commission on
therefore required strong coordination economic and Social classifications
in order to develop a robust, consistent on the european Union (eU) side, (c ommission n ationale des
project that would meet the main eurostat provided dual coordination. n omenclatures Économiques
expectations. First, it participated in negotiations et Sociales: cnneS) for review.
at the U.n. on ISIc and cPc, after cnne S is a unit of the n ational
The key participants in the process seeking coordinated positions among c ouncil for Statistical Information
were governments, international eU Member States (MSs) in order to (c onseil n ational de l’Information
organizations, statisticians, and trade give more weight to eU positions. Statistique: cn IS). Its membership
organizations such as european Second, it oversaw the development consists primarily of InSee and SSM
industry federations (FeBIs and of nAce and cPA in consultation with statisticians, and representatives of
FeBSs) in the manufacturing and MSs. chambers of commerce and employer
service sectors. and employee organizations. cnneS
The eU countries and eurostat found succeeded the national commission
The U.n. played a major organizing themselves in a delicate situation on classifications of Activities and
role. As the entity in charge of ISIc throughout the revision process: Products (c ommission n ationale
and cPc, it occupies an “upstream” on points for which eU countries des nomenclatures d’Activités et de
position in the process and covers had been able to harmonize their Produits: cnAP) in April 2005, with
the broadest geographic field, i.e., views, they needed to speak with a a broader remit. cnAP, then cnneS,
the world. The choices made for single voice, notably via eurostat. met annually from 2004 to 2007.
38The network of international, eU, and French classifications of activities and products:
a coordinated revision in 2008
chosen thus rested on decentralized
Box 1: The network of classifications of activities and products (see also consultations in 16 areas of activity,
diagram on loose sheet inserted in this issue) with the In See c lassifications
Division acting as coordinator. For
The classifications of activities and products form a two-dimensional network:
each of these areas, aggregated into
•  type of classification (activities, products, production surveys, external trade),
eight sets, a “sectoral” statistical •  geographic level: world, European or national.
office (an In See Department in
The term “network” is fully justified by the relationships between these different
three cases, an SSM in five others) classifications, ranging from nesting to linkage through relatively complex tables.
was responsible for organizing the
The classifications of activities are fully nested: the French classification of
necessary consultations. These activities nAF Rev. 2 breaks down the eU classification of activities nAce Rev. 2.
included exchanges between The latter, in turn, is a disaggregation of the International Standard Industrial
classification of All economic Activities, ISIc Rev. 4. The first two levels (21 statisticians—involving other
sections and 88 divisions) are commons to all three classifications. The nesting statistical offices concerned—and
of nAF in nAce is visible at the coding level: to the four figures of nAce classes, dialogues with relevant government
nAF adds a letter in fifth position to identify French sub-classes. entities and business organizations.
The international classification of products (central Product classification: Table 1 shows the scope of coverage
cPc [Ver. 2]) and the eU classification of products (classification of Products of these various offices.
by Activity: cPA 2008) have very different structures. The first is organized in
balance-of-payments form, with a breakdown into transportable goods, other
There were two major consultation goods, and services. The second is arranged by activity of origin. As a result,
phases, one in 2004 to gather French cPA is strictly nested in cPc at the most detailed level only. As before 2008, the
proposals for ISIc and nAce, the French classification of products (cPF Rev. 2) is identical to cPA. But cPF has
its own explanatory notes, whereas cPc and cPA lack notes for their “goods” other in 2005-2006 to prepare nAF
sections altogether. Rev. 2, once the near-final structure of
The construction principles for these classifications explain the differences in nAce Rev. 2 was known. The common
the linkage between classifications of activities and classifications of products sequence for each consultation phase
by geographic level. The links are weak at international level, as ISIc and cPc was broadly as follows:
are built along relatively independent principles. The linkage is excellent at eU
level, where cPA has the same structure and coding as nAce down to class
– The “sectoral” office designated as 3level: cPA has two additional levels, categories and sub-categories, for it is
organizer prepared a discussion or 4approximately five times as detailed as nAce.
proposal package.
At French level, the nAF-cPF linkage is good. More specifically, at class level,
it is comparable to the nAce-cPA linkage; but it is not guaranteed at the level
– consultations were carried out of nAF sub-classes, which subdivide nAce classes. In manufacturing, this is
in meetings or through written notably the case for subcontracting operations in which the principal is the owner
5of the inputs. exchanges.
The Harmonized commodity Description and coding System (HS 2007),
administered by the World customs organization (Wco), is the international – A summary proposal was drafted
customs classification. The eU version of HS is the combined nomenclature (cn after the consultation round.
62008), which is used for statistical purposes and for setting duties. cn is coded
with two digits beyond the first six of the HS code. Its French variant, nGP, breaks – The InSee classifications Division
down only a few cn sectors (wines, cheeses, chemical products) by means of
established consistency among the
a ninth digit.
various proposals and prepared an
The specific european need for a highly detailed tracking of industrial production
overall draft.
mainly concerns manufactured goods. This observation relies on a more detailed
classification than cPA: the Prodcom ([european] community Production) list,
– The draft was submitted to updated annually. The simultaneous monitoring of external trade and intra-eU
the “sectoral” statistical offices trade requires the product field to be expressed as a sum of cn customs items.
for approval and, after the final consequently, Prodcom is also an aggregation of cn. Its coding therefore
reproduces the six digits of cPA, plus two specific digits, to identify the adjustments, was sent to cnneS for
5,000-odd products surveyed. Prodfra, the French version of Prodcom, is also validation.
updated annually. It is usually more detailed than Prodcom and covers a slightly
wider field.
This procedure was rather demanding
because of the workload entailed
for certain offices and the need to
cnneS members were consulted in “sector” representatives of the official
statistical service had a particularly writing in late 2007 and early 2008 on
draft regulations officially approving important role to play, given their 3. nAce and cPA are strictly linked at “division”
level. The linkage may be looser at “class” level the new classifications of activities expertise in the areas of economic
for some divisions (chiefly agriculture, fishing
activity within their purview and their and products: nAF and cPF. and aquaculture, manufacture of furniture, and
retail trade).knowledge of the players whose
4. cPA 2008 comprises 3142 sub-categories.
An innovative arrangement was set up opinions would need to be taken
5. See box 1 in article by Lacroix and Fuger.
to prepare the French proposals. The into account. The working method 6. cn is revised annually, HS every five years.
courrier des statistiques, english series no. 15, 2009 39Thierry Lacroix
system and in cnneS. The answer
was developed in several stages.
The French strategy in international
and eU negotiations has been to
take the largest possible number
of proposals for detailed n AF
structuring and to send them up
to ISIc or nAce level. Admittedly,
some of these proposals have been
accepted at international or eU
level, but not to such an extent that
France can merely adopt n Ace as its
national classification. A significant
number of major French proposals,
refining the nAce Rev. 2 structure,
7thus remained feasible. Moreover,
the second round of national
FAO headquarters, Rome
consultations in France indicated
that participants wished to maintain
or create a number of purely national
comply with a tight schedule so that countries still need to build national categories, although substantially
a full proposal would be ready at classifications—even if they are, for fewer than in the 2003 revision.
the appropriate time. By and large, eU Member States, nested in eU Lastly, an international comparison
the procedure was carried out in a classifications? This question arose showed that all the major developed
satisfactory manner. Several offices in France for n AF and c PF and countries, except Spain, were
invested heavily in the work. This was debated in the official statistical planning to prepare fairly detailed
positive appraisal is not confined to
quantitative issues or timeliness; it also
concerns more qualitative aspects.
Table 1: Management of consultations by activity sector for NAF Rev. 2 on the whole, the general instructions
preparationfor the exercise were properly
followed, most notably as regards Sectors nAce Rev. 2 “Leader” offices
broken down by area (operational level of sectionsthe formation of national sub-classes.
The proposed headings had to be
Agriculture, forestry, fishing A central office of Statistical Surveys and sufficiently robust and substantial to
Studies (SceeS) (agriculture ministry)Food industries c*allow good statistical monitoring at
Mining and quarrying, manufacturing, B, c*, D office of Industrial Studies and Statistics a reasonable price. The instructions
energy (SeSSI) (economy ministry)
therefore specified a minimum size for
construction F office of economic Analysis, Statistics, the sub-classes, expressed in terms
and Forecasting (SeSP) (infrastructure
Transport Hof sales (eUR2 billion) or jobs (15,000 ministry)
people). The proposals issued took
Water, sewerage, waste e
InSee: Statistical coordination and these requirements into account,
Information and communication J International Relations Directorate
thereby avoiding the proliferation of (DcSRI), classifications Division
Households Texcessively small headings, unsuited
Wholesale and retail trade Gto a central classification of economic
statistics such as nAF. Accommodation and food services I
InSee: Business Statistics Directorate Real estate; rental; specialized, scientific, L, M, n
(DSe), Tertiary Activities Departmentand technical services; administrative and
support servicesBuild national
Art, recreation, culture, and other services R, Sclassifications or adopt
EU classifications? Financial services K InSee: economic Studies and national
Accounts Directorate (DeSe), n
Public administration, extraterritorial o, U Accounts Department
o nce international comparability
education P Directorate for Assessment, Forward-of data becomes paramount, do
Looking Analysis, and Performance
(DePP) (education ministry)
Health, social work Q Directorate of Research, Studies, 7. This possibility could not be taken for
Assessment, and Statistics (DReeS) granted, however, as the structural choices
(health ministry)made for ISIc and nAce could, in some cases,
prevent the construction of national subdivisions
*NACE section divided between two sectors.
compatible with the two classifications.
Source: WikipediaThe network of international, eU, and French classifications of activities and products:
a coordinated revision in 2008
8national classifications. All these
factors drove cnneS to approve, Box 2: Improved international comparability of classifications of activities
at its meeting of July 1, 2005, the
In the early 2000s, on the sidelines of “official” revision work, a “convergence
development of a specific French
Group” composed of the U.S. census Bureau, Statistics canada, and eurostat
classification more detailed than began to explore ways of improving comparability. The goal was to compare
nAce Rev. 2. europe’s nAce and north America’s nAIcS so as to promote their convergence
within the “2008 revision” process.
It should be noted, however, that But the quest for a common structure for ISIc, nAce, and nAIcS was
the nAF positioning relative to unsuccessful at that stage for two reasons. First, the divergences proved too
nAce differs considerably from one wide to bridge; second, the legitimacy of the convergence Group was increasing
challenged by the countries and organizations excluded de facto from its activity sector to another. For goods-
work—in particular, the eU countries. The Group eventually decided to end its producing industries, with the notable
work in June 2003, after preparing a “concordance scenario” identifying the exception of food industries, France
points of convergence and divergence between nAce and nAIcS. In practice,
was very determined to converge
however, the results of this common effort served as an input for the construction
toward nAce or even to adopt it of the new ISIc, although the U.n. has never referred to the Group explicitly.
outright. In so doing, the French had
The comparability issue remained prominent in the later revision phases, albeit
three goals: with different interpretations for europeans and north Americans. The europeans
were committed to nesting nAce in ISIc. They were ready to make many
– achieving international comparability concessions for the sake of achieving convergence with nAIcS (in structural
terms, but far less in conceptual terms), all the more so as nAIcS enjoyed an in a sector where world competition
aura of modernity. The north Americans, by contrast, had just completed a is particularly strong and where
major redesign of their classification of activities and were prepared to make geographic diversification does not
only marginal adjustments. They did intend to converge toward ISIc, or rather
easily accommodate the specificities
to ensure ISIc’s convergence toward nAIcS, but were unwilling to strictly align
of national classifications nAIcS with ISIc.
In the end, the overall structure of ISIc Rev. 4 converged strongly toward
– rationalizing the extremely refined nAIcS. The european have walked the extra mile in ging with the other
segmentation of nAF Rev. 1, where 9 By contrast, on methodological issues (concepts, international classifications.
there was no longer any justification methods, and links between classifications), the decisions taken in the revision
for the separate treatment of certain of international classifications are, on the whole, close to the european positions
and, in particular, to the French positions. Apart from the treatment of principals, activities whose importance had
these decisions confirm earlier choices while improving them on points where diminished substantially in recent
difficulties had arisen. For a more detailed presentation of the results obtained
at the end of the revision process, see the following articles in this issue (Lacroix
and Fuger; Madinier), which describe the new nAF and cPF classifications.
– rationalizing the statistical
production tool, with the search for
the best possible correspondence
between nAF and cPF, bearing in meeting that there was no time to n orth-American-inspired structure
mind that such a match has been fully launch a specific consultation on adopted by ISIc and nAce. To obtain
refining the definition of certain cPA achieved between nAce and cPA in headings relevant at French level
10categories for cPF. France therefore most sectors. therefore requires redividing many
decided that the cPF structure should nAce classes into nAF classes.
In other sectors, instead, the be identical to cPA. This choice, as
number of national subdivisions has For cPF, the logical solution seemed well, is consistent with those of most
remained very high, despite a decline. to be to preserve its identity with of France’s eU partners, although
examples include the food industry, the european Union’s cPA. However, a few countries—mostly in eastern
construction, wholesale/retail trade, SeSSI considered the possibility of europe—have developed specific
transportation, and the “information doubling the specific categories and product classifications.
and communication” sector. sub-categories of subcontracted
industrial services (generally coded
The “health and social work” sector xx.xx.9 and xx.xx.99) to avoid
is the only one where nAF has information loss and achieve closer
8. Most eU countries have, however, reduced
provided greater detail than nAce, linkage with nAF. These categories the number of national subdivisions in the 2008
revision.even as the description proposed and sub-categories will become
9. The world of planetary classifications of by ISIc and nAce was considerably important as a result of the change
activities is not confined to ISIc, nAce, and
refined between 2003 and 2008. in rule for classifying principals n AIc S. But few other classifications have
served as a basis for discussion for the “2008 This paradoxical situation is due to (donneurs d’ordre) (see article by
revision.” A notable exception is Japan’s JSIc,
the fact that, in a sector enjoying Lacroix and Fuger). which resembles nAIcS on certain points.
10. For a classification as detailed as cPA, a robust expansion in France, the
there was a real risk of opening a Pandora’s box As the rule change occurred very organization of healthcare and social
that would not have allowed the cPF structure
late, cnneS decided at its June 2007 services does not closely match the to be finalized by end-2007.
courrier des statistiques, english series no. 15, 2009 41Thierry Lacroix
NAF structure and coding
Box 3: Superstructure of classifications of activities
nAce used a four-digit code and
The U.n. proposed that sections and divisions should be kept as the two
continues to do so. Until 2008, the aggregate levels of ISIc (and therefore of nAce and cPA), with a substantially
nAF coding differed only in the fourth revised and refined structure, most notably to better capture service activities.
character, which was a letter. This Paradoxically, one drawback of this proposal was that it aggravated the imbalance
coding system was impractical, as between goods-producing industries and services to the benefit of services at
the most aggregated level, i.e., sections. While manufacturing still accounts for it did not allow users to view the
more than one-quarter of divisions (24 out of 88), it is collapsed at section level, nAce classes to which nAF classes
even though the number of sections has been increased from 17 to 21.
belonged. Worse yet, the n Ace
At the same time, participants considered the possibility of setting up a highly classes did not appear in the nAF
aggregated level comprising about ten headings, i.e., a more collapsed level than structure. Another drawback, which
sections. France, for instance, proposed moving the manufacturing industry up to
emerged in the 2003 revision, was
this level and to break it down into four or five categories at section level. The north
that any redivision of nAce or nAF
Americans strongly opposed the idea, for the sake of continuity with the past and
classes could entail the renumbering arguing that a single superstructure could not possibly satisfy all needs.
of nAF classes belonging to the same
The Un-TSG ultimately adopted a solution favorable to the north American
group (coded on the first three digits),
position. A higher aggregation level was indeed set up at international level,
even if these classes had not changed but is not included in the ISIc official structure (see article by Madinier). Its
at all! use is therefore only recommended but not mandatory. In consequence, no
reorganization of the section level has been adopted.
France rapidly responded with
a plan to add a fifth character to
the n AF coding, as is the case in
nearly all national classifications in
Box 4: Size of NAF Rev. 2eU countries. But the choice was
discussed at length, for it too has its
nAF Rev. 2 comprises 732 national sub-classes, versus 615 for nAce Rev. 2.
drawbacks. Adding a character to the The new nAF is therefore larger than the current nAF but not significantly (20
n AF code means adding one to the additional categories):
“principal economic activity” (Activité
•  The  ISIC  and  NACE  revisions,  and  their  substantially  increased  level  of 
Économique Principale: APe) codes detail—122 additional classes in ISIc, 101 in nAce—have made it possible to
of natural and legal persons recorded take a number of French structural demands sufficiently into account to avoid
in the SIRene business register— supplementing the classifications with purely national subdivisions.
which has repercussions on business •  The  relevance  of  the  new  national  sub-classes,  particularly  in  terms  of 
information systems (see article by economic weight, has been systematically examined. The revision teams have
Roussel). These disadvantages thus refrained from creating excessively small categories, although some
should, however, be downplayed by modest-sized sub-classes whose preservation was strongly requested have
been maintained for certain activities.comparison with those entailed by the
change in classification itself (change More specifically: 85 nAce Rev. 2 classes are broken down into 202 nAF
in content and numbering of headings). Rev. 2 sub-classes, i.e., roughly one-third fewer redivisions of nAce classes
by comparison with previous classifications (Table 2). The net balance of nAce A diversified “early-warning” system
subdivisions into nAF thus comes to 117 additional categories in nAF Rev. 2 should enable the units concerned to
versus 198 in nAF Rev. 1, in other words, an 81-item decrease in the level of anticipate these changes.
detail provided by the national classification relative to the eU classification. This
convergence between nAF and nAce in the 2008 revision thus nearly offsets the
All in all, cnneS judged that the
expansion of nAce and explains the moderate increase in the number of nAF
advantages outweighed the categories (+20 = +101-81).
drawbacks. It approved the five-
character coding of nAF Rev. 2, i.e.,
the four-digit nAce code plus a fifth
specific national character, consisting 11Table 2: Impact of revision of classifications of activities on their size
of a letter. The choice makes the
Rev. 1 Rev. 2 2008/2003linkage between the national
(2003) (2008) change
classification with the eU classification
clearly visible, all the more so as the ISIc (1) 298 419 +121
four-digit nAce classes now appear nAce (2) 514 615 +101
explicitly in nAF. The decision also
nAF (3) 712 732 +20
(4) =(3)-(2)
NAF - NACE 198 117 -81
= (6)-(5)
11. The data compared in the table show the
nAce classes split up into nAF headings (5) 126 85 -41number of classification headings at the most
detailed level (classes for ISIc, nAce, and nAF
nAF categories resulting from splits (6) 324 202 -122
Rev. 1, sub-classes for nAF Rev. 2).
42The network of international, eU, and French classifications of activities and products:
a coordinated revision in 2008
makes it easier to perform national substantial appendices was largely between categories, category
12segmentation into sub-classes if responsible for the delays. counting descriptions, and the drafting of
many subdivisions are required or in all levels, cPA contains more than explanatory notes. France played
the event of further revision. For the 5,000 headings. Moreover, the a dominant role in this process,
specific national position, the choice terminology is very important and authoring nearly two-thirds of the
of a letter rather than a number makes must cover the same reality in all eU common eU proposals submitted to
languages. now while the work of the the U.n.it easier to distinguish nAF codes
statistical groups of the commission from those of other classifications; in
on the other hand, the negotiation particular, it avoids all confusion with and council extends up to the near-
on the detailed ISIc project seems to the coding used in the classification final draft of the regulation, it focuses
have yielded mixed results for France of products (cPF), whose categories exclusively on the english version
and, more generally, the eU, despite are coded with five digits, the first of the text. only when this version
a rather close harmonization of eU four being the nAce code (or now the is nearly finalized does the work on
countries’ positions at this stage of the nAF code). The letter is either A, B, c, versions in other languages begin.
revision process. Frequent opposition etc. when the class is subdivided into
In the case of French and German, from nAFTA and other major sub-classes, or Z when the sub-class
their use in several european countries with substantial influence is identical to the class.
countries complicates the situation in the negotiation (Australia, Japan,
13even further. The procedure for India) and lack of time often entailed
Timetable and instruments discussing the non-english “language the rejection—or failure to examine,
for implementing new versions” of the text is somewhat which led to the same result—of
classifications opaque since it requires consultations eU proposals, notably when they
with the jurist-linguists of the council concerned the structure proposed in
The U.n . Statistical c ommission and Parliament. This turned out to be the Un-TSG draft for ISIc.
adopted the detailed structures of rather arduous, requiring high-level
ISIc Rev. 4 and cPc Ver. 2 at its We should also emphasize the interventions.
March 2006 session, with some minor prominence of international
amendments subsequently. The organizations in the negotiation. The The consequent delay in finalizing
difference in status between U.n. and U.n. Statistical Division, of course, the cPA 2008 regulation led France
eU classifications should be noted. played a major part as proposal to separate the adoption of nAF
The use of U.n . classifications is originator. But the U.n. tended to focus Rev. 2 and cPF Rev. 2. The first was
merely recommended, and the U.n. on the positions of other organizations implemented on January 1, 2008,
readily makes a few improvements in specialized in particular areas, such by a decree of December 26, 2007,
the new system when it discovers gaps as FAo on agriculture, oec D on published in the Journal Officiel (the
IcTs and health, and UneSco on or contradictions in the explanatory French government publication of
education.notes of the revised ISIc and cPc. record) of December 30, on approval,
This flexibility does not mesh well implementation, and scope of the
After the U.n. settled ISIc issues in with the rigidity of eU regulations and new nAF classification. In keeping
February 2005, new proposals for the preparation of a major statistical with the eU nAce regulation, the
the new nAce were examined. Many production system for Member States draft decree had been approved by
of those put forward by France were with nAce and cPA at its core—a the european c ommission, which
adopted. Most of those that were system that requires great stability. verified the French classification’s
turned down suggested the creation compliance with the eU classification.
of new classes—potentially, about At eU level, the european council and cnneS had also issued a favorable
Parliament have issued regulations opinion on the text. The new cPF
on nAce and cPA. The nAce Rev. 2 was adopted by a ministerial decision
regulation, dated December 20, 2006, of June 30, 2008, once the cPA 2008 12. nAF Rev. 2 accordingly includes one more
was published in its different language level than nAF Rev. 1. The most detailed level regulation had been published, and
is now the sub-class, which corresponds to the 14versions in the Official Journal of the after approval by cnneS. class level of nAF Rev. 1; nAF Rev. 2 classes
European Union (oJeU) on December are identical to nAce Rev. 2 classes.
13. French is used by France, Belgium, 30. For cPA 2008, the regulation was
Luxembourg, and Switzerland (although not
more arduous to finalize: although From a French and EU an eU member, uses nAce and
participates in the nAce-cPA Working Group). dated April 23, 2008, and published standpoint, how should
Also note that, apart from France, all the
in the oJeU of June 3, 2008, the cPA one assess the revision Francophone countries use another official
2008 regulation mandates the use of process for classifications language as well.
14. While the final titles of cPA categories (and the classification starting January 1, of activities and products?
therefore of c PF categories) were released
2008! very late, its detailed structure remained
nearly unchanged after March 2007 (it was The eU consultation phase for the
even finalized in June 2007). This allowed
The publication in twenty-three new ISIc covered its arrangement
its introduction into the system of business
languages of documents containing into groups and classes, boundaries statistics without major disruptions.
courrier des statistiques, english series no. 15, 2009 43Thierry Lacroix
fifty—whereas many eU countries proposals for ISIc and those directly – First, as the central classification of
felt that the nAce expansion was concerning nAce, France formulated the statistical system, nAF cannot be
adequate. Indeed, nAce was already some 180 suggestions to improve the too detailed.
gaining some one hundred categories new eU classification. The outcome
compared with its earlier version. was fairly balanced: quantitatively, – Second, some requests were
This explains the frequent rejection nearly as many proposals were contradictory, or went against the
of segmentation requests, even as all accepted as were rejected. spirit of the classification. The most
suggestions for the removal of classes typical example is the request by
via groupings had been accepted. overall, we can conclude that nAce organizations for the creation of cross-
Rev. 2 lies midway between the initial sectional categories to represent their
The eU consultation also revealed draft based on the first draft of ISIc members engaged in a combination
a split. one camp, comprising the Rev. 4 and the goals embodied by the of activities already described in the
major eU countries such as France, set of French proposals. France was classification.
Germany and the U.K., leaned in a very active participant in the ISIc
– Third, many requests were not favor of a more detailed nAce. The and nAce revision process, although
primarily for statistical purposes, but other camp, consisting of the smaller we must recognize that the new ISIc
concerned the regulatory uses of countries—in particular the new eU and therefore the new nAce and nAF
the classification, particularly in the entrants—were determined to restrict chiefly bear the stamp of the U.S. and
social-insurance and tax areas.the level of nAce detail instead. canada. The classification structure
and the wording of the explanatory
Another positive index of the good By comparison with the French notes, in particular, are often imported
match between n AF and national proposals accepted for ISIc, those from nAIcS. Given the number of
needs was the number of challenges approved for nAce are more diverse. participants in the negotiation at
recorded by InSee in the early months Most concern structural changes, international level and France’s weight
of 2008. For a statistical operation of notably the subdivision into more in the world, this result is significant.
this size, there were relatively few detailed classes or the aggregation of
complaints regarding the revision obsolete classes. All in all, counting the At national level, the chosen
of classifications of activities and consultation procedure worked well,
products and the change in APe allowing most requests to be voiced
code for enterprises in SIRene (the and examined.
15. See Bernadette Rocca, “Le changement 15business register). nde nomenclature dans le répertoire Sirene: un
travail au long cours,” Courrier des statistiques For several reasons, it was not
(French series), no. 125, nov.-Dec. 2008, possible to accept all the proposals
pp. 61-66, http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/docs_ffc/

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