National accounts (ei_qna)

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


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union
1.2. Contact organisation unit Unit C2: National accounts - production
1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 09/03/2010
2.2. Metadata last posted 09/03/2010
2.3. Metadata last update 27/01/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Data in this domain constitute only a small part of the entire National Accounts data range available from Eurostat. The size of the data collection is reduced by selecting only the most frequently used variables, breakdowns and presentations.

Annual and Quarterly national accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts - ESA 1995 (Council Regulation 2223/96). Annex B of the Regulation consists of a comprehensive list of the variables to be transmitted for Community purposes within specified time limits. This transmission programme has been updated by Regulation (EC) N° 1392/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council (new ESA95 transmission programme).

Meanwhile, the ESA95 has been reviewed to bring national accounts in the European Union, in line with new economic environment, advances in methodological research and needs of users and the updated national accounts framework at the international level, the SNA 2008.

The revisions are reflected in an updated Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European system of national and regional accounts in the European Union of 2010 (ESA 2010). The associated transmission programme is also updated and data transmissions in accordance with ESA 2010 are compulsory from September 2014 onwards.

Further information on the transition from ESA 95 to ESA 2010 is presented on the Eurostat website.

The domain consists of a selection for variables from the following collections:

Aggregates by branch of gross value added, compensation of employees, wages and salaries, operating surplus and employment (domestic scope) by industry.

Main aggregates, in particular GDP and its breakdown from the expenditure side and gross value added.

Income aggregates, in particular income, saving and net lending / net borrowing.

Price and cost indices, in particular the implicit price indices corresponding to Main aggregates.

3.2. Classification system

The standard followed is currently still the European System of Accounts (ESA 95) but the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010) is the newest internationally compatible EU accounting framework for a systematic and detailed description of an economy. The ESA 2010 was published in the Official Journal on 26 June 2013. It will be implemented as from September 2014; from that date onwards the data transmission from Member States to Eurostat will follow ESA 2010 rules.

National accounts comprise the main aggregates on annual and quarterly national accounts, including: GDP and its components, employment, final consumption aggregates, income, saving and net lending/borrowing, exports and imports. Breakdowns exist for variables by economic activity (industries), asset types and final consumption purpose (COICOP).

Economic activity

An industry (ESA95, 2.108) consists of a group of local kind-of-activity units (i.e., a type of establishment) engaged in the same, or similar, economic activity. Production units in the same industry have the same main activity but may have different secondary and/or ancillary activities.

ESA95 uses aggregation levels of the NACE Rev.2 classification to define industry breakdowns (NACE stands for Nomenclature générale des Activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes). NACE Rev.2 is a classification of economic activities widely used in statistics and in other domains. Requirements for the transmission of NACE Rev.2 series have been specified in the Commission Regulation (EC) No 715/2010 of 10 August 2010

Asset types

The new transmission programme of national accounts data (annex B of Regulation (EC) No 1392/2007) foresees the following asset types (AN_F6) for quarterly data on gross fixed capital formation:

Cultivated assets (AN.1114)
Transport equipment (AN.11131)
Other machinery and equipment (AN.11132)
Dwellings (AN.1111)
Other buildings and structures (AN.1112)
Intangible fixed assets (AN.112)

More detailed information can be found in annex 7.1 of ESA95.

Consumption purpose

Household consumption expenditure can be classified by consumption purpose according to the COICOP classification (Classification Of Individual COnsumption by Purpose, see also Commission Regulation 113/2002 of 23 January 2002). COICOP categories at two-digit level are as follows:

  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics.
  • Clothing and footwear.
  • Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels.
  • Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance.
  • Health.
  • Transport.
  • Communication.
  • Recreation and culture.
  • Education.
  • Restaurants and hotels.
  • Miscellaneous goods and services.

For a complete review of classifications used, please refer either to ESA95 Annex IV, the new Transmission programme (Regulation (EC) N° 1392/2007); Eurostat's RAMON classification database or to the United Nations classification registry.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Quarterly national accounts refer to the whole economy, but breakdowns by sectors are provided in the quarterly sector accounts. In particular, for the quarterly data the A6+1 breakdown is used:

A_B: Agriculture, hunting and forestry; fishing and operation of fish hatcheries and fish farms

C_E: Industry, including energy

D: Manufacturing

F: Construction

G_I: Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and household goods, hotels and restaurants; transport and communications

J_K: Financial, real-estate, renting and business activities

L_P: Other service activities.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

This domain encompasses the main aggregates on national accounts. Its main variables are: GDP and its components, employment, final consumption aggregates, income, saving and net lending/borrowing, exports and imports. The above variables are calculated on an annual basis but the majority of them are also calculated on a quarterly basis.  The ESA 1995 regulation (Regulation 2223/96 of the European Council) and Eurostat's "Handbook on quarterly national accounts" may be referred to for more specific explanations on methodology. All national accounts variables are shown in monetary units. Exception is employment (measured in persons, jobs or hours worked).

  • National currency series (including fixed euro series for euro area Member States) are suitable for studying the development of a variable in a single country over time.
  • ECU/euro series are suitable for internal comparison and aggregation. When comparing them over time, account must be taken of exchange rate effects.
  • Both series coincide for years after accession to the euro area. They differ for earlier years due to exchange rate movements.

The following are brief definitions of concepts and variables from European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95). In general, the ESA95 regulation (Council Regulation 2223/96 of 25 June 1996) may be referred to for more detailed explanations on methodology. You can also see definition provided in the annual national accounts metadata.

Gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices is the final result of the production activity of resident producer units (ESA 1995, 8.89.). It can be defined in three ways:

a. Output approach

GDP is the sum of gross value added of the various institutional sectors or the various industries plus taxes and less subsidies on products (which are not allocated to sectors and industries). It is also the balancing item in the total economy production account.

b. Expenditure approach

GDP is the sum of final uses of goods and services by resident institutional units (final consumption expenditure and gross capital formation), plus exports and minus imports of goods and services.

c. Income approach

GDP is the sum of uses in the total economy generation of income account: compensation of employees, taxes on production and imports less subsidies, gross operating surplus and mixed income of the total economy.

3.5. Statistical unit

National accounts are dealing with the economy (or large sub-sectors) as a whole. They combine data from a host of base statistics, and thus they have no common sampling reference frame. The elementary building block of ESA95 statistics is the institutional unit (ESA95, 2.12.), "an elementary economic decision-making centre characterised by uniformity of behaviour and decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its principal function". This can be, amongst others, a household, a corporation or a government agency. Institutional units producing goods and services are often engaged in a combination of activities at the same time. For national accounts purposes, they are therefore split into local kind-of-activity units (ESA 1995, 2.102.), characterised by involvement in a single activity. These are then grouped into industries, so that a big industrial enterprise may contribute to activities in a number of different branches. For further detail, please refer to ESA95.

3.6. Statistical population

National Accounts combine data from many source statistics. The concept of statistical population is not strictly applicable in a national accounts context.

3.7. Reference area

Eurostat publishes national accounts data for European Union, euro area, EU Member States, EFTA countries, Candidate Countries, the United States, Japan and possibly other countries on an ad-hoc basis.

Eurostat estimates the aggregates for the EU and the euro area; all other data are produced by the statistical offices of the respective countries. For further information on country data you may also refer to National Statistical Institutes and National Central Banks (links given on the Eurostat web site).

Member States, EFTA countries and Candidate Countries have legal obligations to submit their data to Eurostat. These data are the inputs for Eurostat's estimates of EU and euro area. Since the United States and Japan have no such obligation to transmit data to Eurostat, coverage is usually limited to key aggregates, and delays between national publication and availability on Eurostat's website may be longer. Note that for some countries not covered in the national accounts domain, some central aggregates such as GDP may be available from the general statistics domain of Eurostat's online database.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Time coverage (i.e., length of the historical series) is different for European series and for national series. Full coverage is given for EU and euro area aggregates starting from 1995, with some exceptions in the case of the New Member States. The coverage for national data varies from country to country, partly due to derogations provided for in the transmission and back-projection programme, and can, in some cases, be substantially longer than for the European aggregates.

3.9. Base period

The base year for computation of constant prices is traditionally a single, fixed year, which is moved ahead about each five years. The whole time series available is then expressed in prices of the new base year. This practice has the unpleasant feature that the further one moves away from the base year, the more irrelevant becomes the price structure of the base year for the economic reality. In particular, for economic activities in dynamic fields with rapidly moving prices (such as information and communication technologies) expressing growth in prices of a distant year leads to serious distortions. This is why Commission Decision 98/715/EC demands that the base year shall be the previous year. This guarantees that volumes are measured using the most recent price structure. However, this also means that the base is moved ahead depending on the observation period, and no two years have the same price base, so that volume growth rates cannot be calculated directly from series at previous year's prices. Multiplying successive growth rates starting from an arbitrary reference year's level will give a true volume time series. Due to its construction, this is called a chain-linked series. For more detail, see the description provided in the annual national accounts metadata.

Chain-linking of quarterly data is technically more complicated than with annual data. Chain-linking quarterly data on a quarterly basis (i.e. linking quarter-on quarter growth rates, using data at prices of the previous quarter) is a straightforward extension of the annual argument, but faces the risk of the so-called drift problem (see SNA93, chapter XVI for details). EU Member States and most other countries have decided instead to chain-link quarterly data annually, i.e. to chain-link quarterly estimates at the average prices of the previous year (rather than at prices of the previous quarter). There are three well-known techniques for linking the quarterly elements of the chain: one-quarter overlap, annual overlap and over-the-year. The choice of linking technique, while known to produce different results, has proven to usually have only minor impact when applied to actual national accounts data. Eurostat is applying the annual overlap technique for the EU accounts.

While the moving price base brings more accurate description of economic developments, it involves the loss of additivity: chain-linked components of GDP will usually not sum to chain-linked GDP, and chain-linked Member States' GDP will not sum to chain-linked EU GDP. For this reason also, custom aggregations cannot be derived by simple summation of the chain-linked components, but must be derived from summing the component series at current and at previous year's prices, calculating growth rates and chain-linking the results.

In addition, chain-linking cannot be performed directly on variables that can take both negative and positive values. Thus, no chain-linked series are provided for changes in inventories (P52), acquisition less disposal of valuables (P53) and the external balance (B11, B111 for goods only, B112 for services only).

The concept of chain-linking was introduced into the EU accounts end-November 2005, with 2000 as reference year, but the standard reference year is now 2005. Volume and index data using the year 2000 are still derived for the convenience of some users. They will be replaced by 2010 as the new reference year in accordance with the practices of most NSIs (probably in autumn 2014).

4. Unit of measure Top

The data are published in ECU/euro and in national currencies (including euro converted from former national currencies using the irrevocably fixed rate for all years) at current prices and in volume terms.

Population and employment are measured in persons. Employment is also measured in total hours worked.

5. Reference Period Top

The accounting period is the calendar quarter or year depending of the statistical series, with temporal coverage varying across geographical units.

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

National accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts (ESA 1995) adopted in the form of a Council Regulation 2223/96 of dated 25 June 1996 (originally published in the Official Journal L310 of the 30/11/1996), and subsequent amendments, notably Regulation (EC) N° 1392/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council (new ESA95 transmission programme).

National accounts are also under responsibility of Commission Decision 98/715 of 30 November 1998 and Commission Decision 2002/990 of 17 December 2002 on measurement of price and volumes in national accounts.

The ESA 2010 is gradually to replace all other systems as a reference framework of common standards, definitions, classifications and accounting rules for drawing up the accounts of the Member States for the purposes of the Union, so that results that are comparable between the Member States can be obtained.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Data received via the transmission programme are shared with other institutions in accordance with specific agreements, notably with the ECB and the OECD. A Protocol for co-operation between Eurostat and the OECD in the area of National Accounts signed in June 2013 specifies agreed data exchange and data validation arrangements. Further data sharing between international organisations is currently tested.

7. Confidentiality Top
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

Not available

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Eurostat releases of European annual accounts aggregates are not covered by a pre-announced release calendar, but annual accounts that are also covered by the quarterly accounts are usually updated on the occasion of new quarterly releases (which are released according to a pre-announced calendar that is published on Eurostat's website), and figures for a new year usually become available with the first release of quarterly accounts for the fourth quarter of the reference year.

National data are published by the National Statistical Institutes (NSI) following national dissemination calendars. Please consult NSI's websites to get national dissemination calendars (links are given on the Eurostat website). National data become visible on Eurostat's online database usually one to two days after their reception (processing including quality monitoring).

8.2. Release calendar access

The release calendar for European quarterly national accounts is published on the website:

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.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Quarterly; Quarterly and Annual for Main Aggregates

10. Dissemination format Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

There are regular news releases on quarterly national accounts: the flash release at about t+45 days, the second GDP estimate at about t+65 days, the release of employment and income data at t+75 data. The database release at about t+100 days is released with an article in statistics explained.

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 or refer to contact details.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not available

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Apart from the accompanying press release, there are no official comments from Eurostat at the time of the release of the European aggregates. Comments may or may not be made by the European Commission or European Union Member States.

For information on any comment possibly made by the Commission, please refer to For further information on any comments possibly provided by National Statistical Institutes, National Central Banks or National Governments on their own data, please refer to their web sites (Links are given on the Eurostat web site

11. Accessibility of documentation Top
11.1. Documentation on methodology

Eurostat decisions and guidelines are explained in the ESA95 and the Handbook of Quarterly National Accounts. For ESA95, see the link given above under "6.1 Legal acts and other agreements ". The Handbook may be obtained in pdf. format from the Eurostat web site. A methodological overview can be found on the Sector Accounts dedicated website.

11.2. Quality management - documentation


12. Quality management Top
12.1. Quality assurance

Quality is assured by strict application of ESA95 concepts and by thorough validation of the data delivered by countries.

12.2. Quality management - assessment

Not available information.

13. Relevance Top
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

Not available information.

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available information.

13.3. Completeness

Not available information.

14. Accuracy Top
14.1. Accuracy - overall

Eurostat publishes Euro area GDP revision triangles with all vintages of quarter-on-quarter growth rates and year-on-year growth rates for the Euro area 12 (EA12) seasonally and working day adjusted volume GDP as published by Eurostat since May 2003 until September 2012. Quality reports on national accounts, including revision analysis are also published by some Member States.

14.2. Sampling error

Not available information.

14.3. Non-sampling error

Not available information.

15. Timeliness and punctuality Top
15.1. Timeliness

Each quarter Eurostat produces four releases of figures for the EU and the euro area:

At 45 days after the end of the reference quarter ('t+45 days'): flash GDP estimate. The only variable estimated is GDP growth rate (both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted).

At t+65 days: first quarterly GDP release. Variables estimated are GDP and components from output and expenditure side, at current and constant prices.

At t+75 days: first quarterly employment release. The only variable estimated is the total employment (domestic scope) in persons.

At t+100 days: second quarterly release. The variables estimated at t+65 days and t+75 days are revised. Additional variables estimated are: GDP income side components (including A6 industry breakdowns), population & national employment, breakdowns of exports & imports, gross fixed capital formation and domestic employment.

This timeliness is subject to the availability of country data that serve as the basis to calculate the European aggregates. Member States have the legal obligation to transmit the new annual data to Eurostat. Coverage is usually not complete within these deadlines, but increases with subsequent releases. In case of missing country data, Eurostat may use internal figures (based on unpublished estimates) to produce European aggregates.

15.2. Punctuality

Annual accounts are not covered by a pre-announced release calendar, but annual accounts that are also covered by the quarterly accounts are usually updated on the occasion of new quarterly releases.

16. Comparability Top
16.1. Comparability - geographical

Malta has not fully implemented Commission Decision 98/715 regarding the calculation of chain linked volume data. Data are currently under review and might change

16.2. Comparability - over time

National accounts data using a specific methodological framework are comparable over time. Agreed methodological changes are implemented in a coordinated way and include the estimation of back series. This will also be the case for the transition from ESA 95 to ESA 2010. If data are not comparable over time, this should be indicated as a "break" in series with a b flag.

17. Coherence Top
17.1. Coherence - cross domain

Additional time series are available from the other domains on National Accounts and from Eurostat publications.

Most of the national data used in the calculation of euro area and European Union aggregates have originally been published by the National Statistical Institutes (NSI). These data may also be used for cross-checking. Most are disseminated via the NSI's websites.

In certain cases, data from other domains of economic statistics, i.e. balance of payments statistics, business statistics, household budget statistics or external trade statistics can be used for cross-checking purposes. These economic statistics are also available from the appropriate domains on Eurostat's website.

17.2. Coherence - internal

In between Eurostat releases, Member States may revise their figures. Eurostat publishes the new Member States' accounts shortly after reception but does not recalculate the EU accounts until the next scheduled EU release. Geographical coherence may thus be lost for a brief period. In turn, a certain stability of annual aggregates is assured, and annual and quarterly EU aggregates will by default be coherent.

For any accounting conventions with respect to the recording of transactions, please refer to the ESA95 and the Handbook of Quarterly National Accounts. It should be noted that National Accounts figures, in contrast to foreign trade statistics, are not consolidated for intra-EU trade.

18. Cost and Burden Top

Not available information.

19. Data revision Top
19.1. Data revision - policy

National data are revised according to national schedules, and revisions are applied to Eurostat's online database as soon as they become available to Eurostat.

Figures for the annual European aggregates are revised at least twice per quarter, with the t+65 and the t+105 days releases of quarterly accounts (for employment with the dedicated t+75 days release and the t+100 days release). These dates are pre-announced in the release calendar on Eurostat's web-site. On both occasions, previously published figures are subject to revision for all variables and all quarters. Unless explicitly stated, no revisions are applied on the publication date of the flash estimate at t+45 days after the end of the quarter.

19.2. Data revision - practice

National accounts data are subject to continuous routine revisions as new input data becomes available. This will typically also entail revisions of the European aggregates, which are derived from these data, but updated estimations of the European aggregates are only released on specific dates. Data are also subject to revision when new annual data are published, in order to ensure consistency between quarterly and annual figures.

Annual data may be revised twice every quarter with the release of quarterly figures.

For quarterly national accounts estimates, the main causes of revisions are:

  • Revisions in annual accounts.
  • Revisions of raw basic statistics used by member states in compiling quarterly accounts.
  • Revisions in methods or parameters of seasonal adjustment.
  • Revisions of estimation model for the euro area and the European Union.

In addition, exceptional revisions will result from major changes in methodology. These major changes will be implemented with legislation, and therefore announced in the Official Journal of the European Union and other publications.

20. Statistical processing Top
20.1. Source data

Eurostat publishes national accounts data for the European Union, euro area and country data (for EU Member States, EFTA countries, Candidate Countries, the United States and Japan). Eurostat estimates the figures for EU and euro area (see section below '20.5. Data Compilation' for details); all the other data are produced by the statistical offices of the respective countries.

Countries use many sources to compile their national accounts, among them administrative data from government, censuses, business surveys and household surveys. No single survey can hence be referred to. Sources vary from country to country and may cover a large set of economic, social, financial and environmental items, which do not always need to be strictly related to national accounts. In any case, there is no single survey source for national accounts.

In particular, different sources are used for calculating the different approaches of GDP mentioned above under '3.4 Concepts and definitions'. If more than one of these approaches is used, their results are usually balanced, i.e. forced to be coherent, so that a single value for GDP is obtained.

For further information about sources and collection methods in National Statistical Institutes (NSIs), please refer to National Statistical Institutes and National Central Banks (see Eurostat's web site, and after having chosen the language to be used, select menu: All Services - Links and Contacts).

20.2. Frequency of data collection

The frequency of data collection varies according to the data sources used for the compilation of national accounts (administrative data from government, censuses, business surveys and household surveys).

20.3. Data collection

National Accounts combine data from many source statistics. Techniques of data collection vary widely, depending on the compilation approach, the source statistics available, the particular account in the system of accounts, the timeliness of data release and other factors.

20.4. Data validation

Source data undergo a sequence of checks within NSIs. Eurostat checks national data mainly for completeness (coverage of reference periods and variables) and consistency (accounting consistency, time-consistency between quarterly and annual accounts and consistency over time) and follows up with NSIs on any lack of quality in this respect.

The same checks are applied to data for the European aggregates. Validation against data from other domains and validation of the statistical tools used are done on an ad-hoc basis.

20.5. Data compilation

Eurostat estimates the aggregates for the EU and the euro area; all other data are produced by the statistical offices of the respective countries. For further information on country data you may also refer to National Statistical Institutes and National Central Banks (links given on the Eurostat web site).

Member States, EFTA countries and Candidate Countries have legal obligations to submit their data to Eurostat. These data are the inputs for Eurostat's estimates of EU and euro area. Since the United States and Japan have no such obligation to transmit data to Eurostat, coverage is usually limited to key aggregates, and delays between national publication and availability on Eurostat's website may be longer. Note that for some countries not covered in the national accounts domain, some central aggregates such as GDP may be available from the general statistics domain of Eurostat's online database.

Eurostat estimates the aggregates for euro area and EU using different methods for annual and for quarterly accounts.

The annual data for the euro area and the EU are derived using Member States' data as input, usually by adding up the aggregates for all Member States after expressing them in a common currency (euro/ECU). Where single Member States' figures are lacking, Eurostat may use unpublished estimates to impute country data and hence calculate the European aggregates.

The summation is done on figures expressed in euro/ECU, not on figures expressed in national currencies. The reason is that for periods before 1999, national currency series have been constructed by applying the irrevocably fixed euro exchange rate, even if the historical ECU exchange rates have been different.

Adding Member States' figures to obtain euro area/EU data is, of course, only done at evaluations for which additivity is granted, namely on figures at current prices and at prices of the previous year. All other presentations, such as growth rates, shares and chain-linked volumes, are derived from levels of these two evaluations. This means that the EU chain-linked volumes are derived from chain-linking EU data at previous year's prices, and not from summing Member States' chained series.

Quarterly data for the euro area and the European Union are derived from all countries for which the respective quarterly data are available. As not all Member States collect quarterly data in time for the different releases scheduled by Eurostat, and some countries do not yet compile quarterly data at all, the following procedure is used to produce quarterly estimates of the European aggregates:

  • All the available quarterly data from Member States are summed up in order to calculate indicators to be used for the estimation of euro area and European Union aggregates. The use of at least some of the data from the largest Member States (Germany, Spain, France, Italy and United Kingdom) is necessary for producing reliable indicators. Indicators are built at current prices and at prices of the previous year. These indicators are then used to produce a preliminary estimate in a statistical framework that links available quarterly and annual information to derive quarterly values for the target euro area and European Union aggregates. According to this procedure, the quarterly movement of the estimated aggregates is led by the quarterly indicators and reflects the movement and weights of the Member States for which data are available.
  • Preliminary estimates are balanced to ensure that the accounting constraints are obeyed. Therefore, both the use of all data available at a specific point of time and the accounting consistency are ensured. The balanced estimate at prices of the previous year is then chain-linked according to the annual overlap technique to produce chain-linked volume series.

For Eurostat's flash estimate of real quarterly GDP growth, the procedure is basically the same; the main difference with respect to the regular estimations is the nature of the basic statistics used. For the flash estimate, these are primarily the flash estimates of GDP provided by some Member States, and appropriate related indicators for some other countries that do not provide a flash estimate of GDP yet. A more detailed description of the flash estimate methodology is available from the following Eurostat publication:

"Flash estimation of the quarterly Gross Domestic Product for the euro area and the European Union - Eurostat methodology" (catalogue number KS-BE-03-002-EN-N) in the "methods & nomenclatures" series, available from Eurostat's web-site.

20.6. Adjustment

If Member States' accounts show discrepancies (explicit or implicit) between GDP and the sum of components, European annual accounts derived from summing these up would show a discrepancy equal to the sum of Member States' discrepancies. To avoid this, European annual accounts use some variables to adjust for any possible lack of additivity between the total and the sum of its components, i.e. these variables are effectively used as balancing items. This is only possible at current and at previous year's prices, because of the lack of additivity induced by the chain-linking technique. The balancing variables are P.52+P.53 (change in inventories plus net acquisition of valuables) for the expenditure approach and B.2G+B.3G (gross operating surplus and mixed income) for the income approach. For the output approach, all elements are subject to a proportional adjustment.

Similarly, when calculating European aggregates, Eurostat corrects country data for lack of additivity if a variable does not equal the sum of its (industry, product or COICOP) breakdowns.

As regards national income, accounting consistency is actually established by deriving some variables directly from the accounting equations, rather than estimating them directly. This is the case for K.1 (consumption of fixed capital), D.5+D.6+D.7 (other current transfers with row), B.8N (Net saving) and D.9 (capital transfers with the rest of the word 'row').

A major exception to general accounting consistency is the equation:

GDP + net primary income received from row = GNI

In this equation, all three variables are computed independently, since the implicit derivation of net primary income was found to be subject to arbitrary movements which are small in size relative to the two aggregates, but significant for the balance of primary income.

Consistency between QNA and ANA in temporal aggregation (i.e. quarters will sum to the corresponding annual value) is established by the estimation procedure. Non-seasonally adjusted QNA are consistent with the published "standard" annual accounts. Seasonally adjusted QNA on the other hand are consistent with annual accounts to which a partial working-day adjustment has been applied. Differences in the annual growth derived from quarterly seasonally adjusted data and annual growth as published in the annual accounts is thus due to an annual working-day effect.

NSIs may provide explicit balancing adjustments for their national accounts. These are recorded as "discrepancy items" in the appropriate tables.

Seasonal adjustments are carried out directly by Members States. Most countries compile quarterly accounts both in raw and seasonally adjusted form, other countries compile just a partial seasonally adjusted set, and a few others, in particular some new Member States, still compile unadjusted figures only. Two main groups of methods can be distinguished: moving average based methods and model based methods (Handbook of Quarterly National Accounts, 8.30). The most widely used moving average based method for seasonal adjustment is Census-X11 (and its upgrades). TRAMO/SEATS is a well-known method that belongs to the latter group of procedures. At present, National Statistical Institutes in the European Union Member States use different methods of seasonal adjustment, all of them however belonging either to the X11 or the TRAMO/SEATS families of methods.

Seasonal adjustment of the European aggregates is done indirectly, i.e. seasonally adjusted series are calculated from seasonally adjusted Member States' data, rather than directly applying seasonal adjustment to the unadjusted European series (which in turn is derived from unadjusted Member States' data). The European seasonally adjusted series thus include a mix of seasonal adjustment procedures.

Working-day adjustment is applied as an optional pre-treatment in the seasonal adjusted data from Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. As the European aggregates use those figures together with data from Member States that do not apply a working day correction, they are not fully working-day corrected.

21. Comment Top

National Accounts figures, in contrast to foreign trade statistics, are not consolidated for intra-EU trade.

Due to different revision policy for the European aggregates and the Member States' data, there may be a difference between the European aggregate and the appropriate sum of national data between updates. Moreover, the European aggregates are not suitable for implicit derivation of values for missing national series.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top