Government accounts

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union


Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Dissemination format
11. Accessibility of documentation
12. Quality management
13. Relevance
14. Accuracy
15. Timeliness and punctuality
16. Comparability
17. Coherence
18. Cost and Burden
19. Data revision
20. Statistical processing
21. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)



For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT

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1. ContactTop
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unitUnit C3: Public finance
1.5. Contact mail address2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG


2. Metadata updateTop
2.1. Metadata last certified09/03/2010
2.2. Metadata last posted09/03/2010
2.3. Metadata last update21/05/2013


3. Statistical presentationTop
3.1. Data description

Government Finance Statistics (GFS) form the basis for fiscal monitoring in Europe. Annual government deficit and debt statistics are reported to the European Commission in the framework of the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP). Government revenue and expenditure, annual and quarterly, are reported by Member States under the ESA 95 transmission programme. 

General government net borrowing/net lending (deficit/surplus), and general government debt, form two of the convergence criteria for EMU. The following series are as reported in the EDP tables:

  • Deficit/surplus of the general government sector;
  • General government debt;
  • General government gross fixed capital formation;
  • General government primary balance
  • Intergovernmental lending within the EU and euro area in the context of the financial crisis. 

Total general government revenue and total general government expenditure annual series are reported by national authorities in ESA table 2 of the ESA 95 transmission programme. 

General government deficit/surplus and general government debt quarterly series are reported by national authorities in ESA tables 25 and 28, respectively, of the ESA 95 transmission programme.

3.2. Classification system

The underlying methodological framework is the European system of accounts, 1995 edition (ESA 95). Deficit and debt statistics are compiled according to Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) rules. In addition, the ESA95 manual of Government Deficit and Debt contains Eurostat decisions and guidelines applicable to EDP statistics.

3.3. Coverage - sector

General government sector (S.13) and its sub-sectors.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

General government deficit/surplus annual data reported under the EDP corresponds to net borrowing/net lending as defined by the ESA 95 code 'EDP B.9'. This is similar to B.9, except that interest flows under swaps and forward rate agreements are treated as financial flows in ESA 95 but as interest for the purpose of the EDP.

General government deficit/surplus quarterly data corresponds to net lending (+) / net borrowing (-) (B.9), and is the difference between total general government revenue and expenditure. Due to a seasonal pattern of taxes, other revenues, and certain expenditure items the quarterly evolution is volatile and country specific. Therefore, users should be cautious in its analysis before making any extrapolation or drawing conclusions. Users should be aware that the amplitude of the seasonality and the nature of seasonality varies considerably across countries.

General government debt is defined as consolidated gross debt at end-year nominal value. The quarterly series is fully compatible conceptually with the annual series. Other accounts payable and financial derivatives (as defined in ESA 95) are excluded from the definition.

General government primary balance is defined as net borrowing/net lending less consolidated interest expenditure (ESA code D.41);

General government gross fixed capital formation corresponds to ESA code P.51.

Intergovernmental lending within the EU and euro area : the concepts and definitions are based on ESA 95 and on the rules on EDP. The data covered are stocks of loans related to claims of other EU Member States. For 2011 onwards, intergovernmental lending includes also loans made by European Financial Stability Facility.

General government revenue and general government expenditure are defined in Commission Regulation (EC) N° 1500/2000 of 10 July 2000. The difference between total revenue and total expenditure equals net lending/net borrowing (B.9). The data for revenue and expenditure items (ESA codes) D.4, D.7, and D.9 are consolidated within the general government sector. D.995 is to be deducted from revenue rather than included in expenditure.

Valuation principles are in accordance with ESA 95. However, debt is recorded at nominal (face) value. Foreign currency debt is converted into national currency using end-year market exchange rates (though special rules apply to contractual agreements).

Data are in principle compiled on an accrual basis, according to ESA 95 rules. For recording of taxes and social contributions, the common principles of ESA 95 are modified by Commission Regulation (EC) No. 995/01.

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit is an institutional unit as defined in ESA95. The institutional units are grouped to general government sector and its sub-sectors.

3.6. Statistical population

General government sector and its sub-sectors.

3.7. Reference area

EU and euro area aggregates, EU Member States, Croatia (HR), Turkey (TR), Norway (NO), Iceland (IS), Switzerland (CH). For the non-EU member countries, not all series are available.

3.8. Coverage - Time

EDP series: 1995 onwards (later for HR, TR, IS, and NO).

Government revenue and expenditure: some countries from 1980 onwards, otherwise 1995.

Quarterly deficit/surplus: generally 1999 onwards.

Quarterly debt: generally 2000 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.


4. Unit of measureTop

Euro (ECU before 1999).


5. Reference PeriodTop

The reference period is the calendar year or quarter.


6. Institutional MandateTop
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

National accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts - ESA95 adopted in the form of a Council Regulation (EC) dated 25 June 1996, N° 2223/96. National accounts data are transmitted in accordance with the revised ESA 95 transmission programme (EP and Council Regulation (EC) N° 1392/07).

General government revenue and general government expenditure are defined in Commission Regulation (EC) N° 1500/2000 of 10 July 2000. Other legal bases are Commission Regulation (EC) No 264/2000 of 3 February 2000 and Regulation (EC) No 1221/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 June 2002 (see Annexes at the bottom of the page) as well as Regulation (EC) No 1161/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2005 on the compilation of quarterly non-financial accounts by institutional sector. Quarterly government debt data are compiled with reference to Council Regulation (EC) No 1222/2004 of 28 June 2004 (OJ No L 233/1) concerning the compilation and transmission of data on the quarterly government debt.

For EDP statistics, the legal basis is the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty), the protocol on the Excessive Deficit Procedure annexed to the Treaty, and Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2009 on the application of the Protocol. The provisions on the Excessive Deficit Procedure (Maastricht Treaty) are extended by the Stability and Growth Pact in the context of the Amsterdam Treaty.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Data may be circulated within the European Institutions, especially the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Council ahead of release.


7. ConfidentialityTop
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Data are treated as confidential after reporting by Member States, during the validation process, until the Press Release.


8. Release policyTop
8.1. Release calendar

The EDP statistics (including total general government revenue and expenditure), and quarterly debt statistics appear in Eurostat News Releases and in Eurostat’s release calendar.

8.2. Release calendar access

The release dates are disseminated on Euro-Indicators Release Calendar

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Dissemination format') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

Data for EU countries: Data may be circulated within the European Institutions, especially the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Council ahead of release. National governments may release their national data beforehand, though the data remain subject to verification by Eurostat.


9. Frequency of disseminationTop

Bi-annual dissemination for the annual data. Exceptionally, revisions may occur between the bi-annual reporting, and these may be disseminated at other times.

Quarterly dissemination for the quarterly data.


10. Dissemination formatTop
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics in Focus - irregularly

EU economic data pocketbook - quarterly

Eurostatistics - monthly

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line at GFS Main Tables and GFS Database, or refer to contact details.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Micro-data are accessible on Eurostat´s website at GFS Main Tables and GFS Database.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Comments may be made by the European Commission or EU Member States on the occasion of the release of EU data.

Data on government revenue, expenditure and their main components are also a part of integrated presentation of government finance statistics (government revenue, government expenditure, government deficit, transactions in assets, transactions in liabilities, other economic flows, and balance sheets including EDP-related concepts). Please see dedicated section on government statistics.


11. Accessibility of documentationTop
11.1. Documentation on methodology

The ESA95 methodology is referred to in European System of Accounts - ESA95.

The methodology for EDP statistics is set out in the Protocol on the EDP, and Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2009. Reference may also be made to the ESA95 manual of Government Deficit and Debt, which contains Eurostat decisions and guidelines.

See also the Manual on quarterly non-financial accounts for general government - 2011 edition

11.2. Quality management - documentation

See the page "Quality reports" of the dedicated section (GFS) of Eurostat's website. Also, the page "EDP Inventories" presents descriptions of the sources and methods used for compiling the reported EDP data, as required by Council Regulation (EC) N° 479/2009 as amended.


12. Quality managementTop
12.1. Quality assurance

Quality of data is assured by a validation process of the Member States' data by Eurostat. The plausibility of the data is checked for each transmission and Member States are asked for some additional information in case of any doubts about data quality.

However, due to the complexity, volume and heterogeneity of data sources, quality assurance is based to a large extent on assessing primary sources and processes rather than the final product. Eurostat undertakes EDP dialogue and methodological visits to Member States, during which it reviews government finance data.

12.2. Quality management - assessment

See the page "Quality reports" of the dedicated section (GFS) of Eurostat's website.


13. RelevanceTop
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

Users of data are: the European Commission, European Central Bank, researchers, politicians, etc.

The data are required primarily for the purposes of the EDP, Stability and Growth Pact, and convergence criteria of EMU.

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Eurostat and DG ECFIN are in constant dialogue in order to completely ensure and improve the data available.

13.3. Completeness

All data required by Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2009 are available. Series are incomplete for the non-EU member countries. Concerning the reporting of government revenue and expenditure, series length is not satisfactory in all cases.


14. AccuracyTop
14.1. Accuracy - overall

Eurostat is responsible for exercising quality controls ensuring a high level of accuracy in the reported data.

14.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

14.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.


15. Timeliness and punctualityTop
15.1. Timeliness

Council Regulation 479/2009 as amended requires that Member States report government deficit and debt data related to the EDP twice per year: before 1 April and before 1 October. Total government revenue and expenditure data are also reported on these dates, in accordance with the ESA95 transmission programme (though the provision of sub-sector data for S1312, S1313 and S1314 is voluntary at T+3 months for the last year transmitted).

Quarterly data are to be delivered three months after the end of the quarter to which the data relate. Quarterly data are released at around t+112 days after the reference quarter.

15.2. Punctuality

All Member States normally meet the deadlines.


16. ComparabilityTop
16.1. Comparability - geographical

Data are comparable across Europe, as harmonised European rules (ESA95, and ESA95 Manual on government deficit and debt) are used by all Member States for compiling the data.

16.2. Comparability - over time

Comparability over time is generally ensured. However, in some countries, methodological breaks can affect time series (normally on a temporary basis).


17. CoherenceTop
17.1. Coherence - cross domain

Council Regulation 479/2009 as amended requires consistency of reported EDP data with the GFS data delivered to Eurostat in the ESA95 transmission programme. This consistency is verified by Eurostat in the course of validation of the Member States' EDP data.

17.2. Coherence - internal

Consistency is ensured within and between the EDP and other GFS tables reported by the Member States.


18. Cost and BurdenTop

Not available


19. Data revisionTop
19.1. Data revision - policy

For years covered by the latest EDP notification (back to t-4), revision policy should be in line with the "Code of best practice" agreed between the Commission and Member States. Data for earlier years (before t-4) are revised in the database by Eurostat whenever Member States provide revised data. Data are revised as necessary, in line with national accounts principles.

Concerning the quarterly data, revisions may be made with each new data transmission every quarter.

19.2. Data revision - practice

Under the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), the data reported before 1 April are preliminary since revised annual data are notified before 1 October. These revisions may affect all reported years. Further revisions may be necessary due to updated data sources or other reasons.

Major changes in methodology may occur as a result of EU legislation or Eurostat decisions (following a consultation procedure with Member States). Major changes in methodology which occur at the national level to comply with existing EU requirements, may be mentioned in Eurostat's news release.


20. Statistical processingTop
20.1. Source data

Data are based on national accounts of general government, derived primarily from administrative and other records of general government, and on official estimates particularly from ministries of finance. Basic data are in national currency.

20.2. Frequency of data collection

Twice a year or quarterly.

20.3. Data collection

Data are collected primarily from administrative reports, but sometimes also with statistical surveys (especially for extra budgetary units and local government units etc.).

20.4. Data validation

Annual data - Eurostat validates data twice per year during the period of three weeks after the EDP notification by the Member States. The validation process consists of arithmetic and quality checks as well as checks on consistency with ESA95 methodology and with the GFS data delivered to Eurostat in the ESA95 transmission programme.

Quarterly data - the validation process consists of arithmetic and quality checks as well as consistency with ESA 95 methodology. Main checks conducted:
- Accounting and arithmetic relationships between general government total expenditure and total revenue and their components.
- Consistency between QNFAGG/STPFS data and corresponding annual data (e.g. ESA table 2);

- Consistency with EDP notification figures;

- Large revisions and outlier detection.

20.5. Data compilation

Valuation principles are in accordance with ESA 95. However, debt (both annual and quarterly) is recorded at nominal (face) value. Foreign currency debt is converted into national currency using end-year market exchange rates (though special rules apply to contractual agreements). The debt of the Euro area and EU aggregates is consolidated by removal of the loans that Member States have granted for support operations to other Member States.

Data are in principle compiled on an accrual basis, according to ESA 95 rules. For recording of taxes and social contributions, the common principles of ESA 95 are modified by Commission Regulation (EC) N° 995/01 implementing EP and Council Regulation (EC) N° 2516/00.

Quarterly data should be based as much as possible on direct information from basic sources, and shall be completed by coverage adjustments, if needed, and by conceptual adjustments in order to bring quarterly data in line with ESA 95 concepts.

For series transmitted in national currencies other than euro, the data are converted by Eurostat into euro using quarterly/annual average exchange rates (supplied by ECB) in the case of general government flows (net borrowing/net lending, gross fixed capital formation etc.). Eurostat converts national currency into euro using end-period exchange rates (supplied by ECB) in the case of general government debt and its breakdown by financial instrument.

For annual data, ratios as a percentage of GDP are based on annual GDP data submitted to Eurostat in the EDP notification (for years going back to t-4), and from GDP reporting to Eurostat (for earlier years). For quarterly data, GDP ratios are based on quarterly GDP reporting to Eurostat. GDP is gross domestic product at current market prices, as defined in ESA95 (B.1*g).

Euro area and EU aggregates are formed by the aggregation of the country data in euro (ECU). There is no consolidation of debt between Member States.

20.6. Adjustment

Please consult the news releases for information on the reservations and amendments by Eurostat to the individual countries' data.


21. CommentTop

The government deficit data related to the EDP (EDP B.9) differs from the deficit according ESA95 (B.9) for the treatment of interest relating to swaps and forward rate agreements.

For the years not covered by the latest EDP notification (which provides data back to year t-4), the series EDP B.9 may differ from the data in General government main aggregates. In this case the data in the General government main aggregates domain are normally more reliable.

Please consult the news releases for information on the reservations and amendments by Eurostat to the individual countries' data.


Related metadataTop
gov_a_main_esms - Government revenue, expenditure and main aggregates
gov_dd_esms - Government deficit and debt
gov_q_ggdebt_esms - Quarterly government debt
gov_q_ggnfa_esms - Quarterly non-financial accounts for general government


AnnexesTop