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Indicators are statistical measures designed for a specific purpose. The term itself has its roots in the Latin words indicare (to point out, to show, to indicate) and index, literally meaning ‘anything used for pointing’ and ‘the finger used for pointing’.

The European Statistical System Committee (ESSC) defines indicators as ‘a particular subset of statistical information, directly related to a special purpose such as monitoring specific policy objectives’. In the Regulation No 99/2013 on the European Statistical Programme[1], indicators are described as ‘a summary measure related to a key issue or phenomenon and derived from a series of observed facts. Indicators can be used to reveal relative positions or show positive or negative change’.