Material flow accounts (env_ac_mfa)

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

E2: Environmental statistics and accounts; sustainable development

1.5. Contact mail address

L-2920 Luxembourg, LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 08/10/2014
2.2. Metadata last posted 09/10/2014
2.3. Metadata last update 08/10/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

This meta data refers to two datasets based on one and the same data collection:

  1. Material flow accounts (env_ac_mfa): detailed material input flows into the national economy (in tonnes)
  2. Resource productivity (env_ac_rp): various ratios of gross domestic product (GDP) over domestic material consumption (DMC)

Eurostat collects economy-wide material flow accounts data from national statistical institutes (NSI) via an annual questionnaire (see 6.1 for legal base). Reporting deadline for the questionnaire is 31 December (mandatory T+24months; about half of the NSIs usually report already T+12months).

Eurostat publishes data in three waves (see also 8.1):

  • March (T+27months): Data as reported by NSI after validation by Eurostat.
  • June (T+18months): If not reported by NSI, Eurostat estimates on the basis of national and international data sources.
  • September (T+9months): Eurostat estimates based on exogenous predictors (e.g. gross value added, volume indices of production etc.).


ad 1.) Economy-wide material flow accounts (EW-MFA) compile material flow inputs into national economies. EW-MFA cover all solid, gaseous, and liquid material inputs, except for water and air, measured in mass units per year. Like the system of national accounts, EW-MFA constitute a multi-purpose information system. The detailed material flows provide a rich empirical database for numerous analytical purposes. Further, EW-MFA are used to derive various material flow indicators such as:

  • Domestic extraction (DEU): total amount of material extracted for further processing in the economy, by resident units from the natural environment;
  • Imports (IMP): imports of products in their simple mass weight;
  • Direct material input (DMI): measures the direct input of material into the economy; it includes all materials which are of economic value and which are availble for use in production and consumption activities (=DEU+IMP);
  • Exports (EXP): exports of products in their simple mass weight;
  • Domestic material consumption (DMC): measures the total amount of material actually consumed domestically by resident units (=DEU+IMP-EXP).

    Note: IMP and EXP are distinguished into extra-EU-trade and total trade.


ad 2.) Resource productivity (GDP/DMC) is defined as the ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) over domestic material consumption (DMC) and commonly expressed in Euro per kilogramm material. The data set env_ac_rp employs different types of GDP for calculating this ratio - depending on the analytical perspective:

  1. GDP in current prices over DMC (unit = 'Euro per Kilogram'): to be used to analyse a single country at one point in time (for one particular year);
  2. GDP in chain linked volumes over DMC (unit = 'Euro per kilogram, chain linked volumes (2005)'): eliminates price inflation over time; to be used when comparing over time (various years) one single country;
  3. GDP in purchasing power standard (unit = 'Purchasing Power Standard per Kilopgram'): eliminates differences in price levels across countries; to be used when comparing across countries at one point in time (for one particular year).

In order to compare the performance over time and across various countries the second resource productivity ratio employing GDP in chain-linked volumes has been indexed to the year 2000 (unit = 'Index, 2000=100'). This index allows a comparison of countries' resource productivity performance. 

3.2. Classification system

The data set 'material flow accounts' (env_ac_mfa) is a multidimensional datacube with 5 dimensions:

1) Geographical entitiy (GEO): EU member states, EFTA countries, candidate countries.

2) Material flow indicator (INDIC_NV): Seven different material flow indicators are distinguished, see above 3.1. The most prominent is Domestic Material Consumption (DMC).

3) Material category (MATERIAL): A specific hierarchical classification (up to 4-digits) has been developed with some 50 material categories such as biomass, metal ores, non-metallic minerals, and fossil energy materials/carriers.

4) Period of time (TIME): Data are annual. The env_ac_mfa data start with the year 1990 (since 2000 gap-filled). The env_ac_rp data set starts with the year 2000.

5) Unit (UNIT): thousand tonnes; tonnes per capita.


The data set 'resource productivity' (env_ac_rp) is a multidimensional datacube with three dimensions:

1) Period of time (TIME): Data are annual starting with 1995.

2) Geographical entitiy (GEO): EU member states, EFTA countries, candidate countries.

3) Unit (UNIT): The following four units are distinguished (depending on which type of GDP has been used for the ratio):
  a) 'Euro per Kilogram' [GDP in current prices];
  b) 'Euro per kilogram, chain linked volumes (2005)' [GDP in chain-linked volumes normalised to 2005 prices; eliminating price inflation over time];
  c) 'Purchasing Power Standard per Kilogram' (GDP in Purchasing Power Standards; eliminating differences in price levels across countries];
  d) 'Index, 2000=100' [based on GDP in chain-linked volumes, see b)]


3.3. Coverage - sector

The data refer to national economies as defined in the system of national accounts.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Conceptually Economy-wide Material Flow Accounts (EW-MFA) belong to the international system of environmental economic accounting (SEEA-Central Framework). Furthermore, EW-MFA is one of several physical modules of Eurostat's programme on European environmental economic accounts. It is covered by Regulation (EU) No. 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts.

EW-MFA are closely related to concepts and definitions of national accounts. Most notably they follow the residence principle, i.e. they record material flows related to resident unit's activities, regardless where those occur geographically.

Further methodological guidelines are provided in various publications by Eurostat (see here).

3.5. Statistical unit

See above item 3.2.

3.6. Statistical population

Not applicable

3.7. Reference area

See above item 3.2.

3.8. Coverage - Time

See above item 3.2.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Economy-wide material flow accounts are initially compiled in metric tonnes per year (annual questionnaire).

Eurostat calculates tonnes per capita using annual average population data [data set: demo_gind 'Demographic balance and crude rates'].

The various units employed for the resource productivity indicators (GDP/DMC) are explained above in items 3.1 and 3.2.

5. Reference Period Top

The data refer to the calendar years.

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

Economy-wide material flow accounts (EW-MFA) are legally covered by Regulation (EU) 691/2011 on European Environmental Economic Accounts.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

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

Confidential data are flagged 'confidentiasl' and not published. For aggregates of confidential data Eurostat's rules for confidentiality are respected.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The deadline for the annual EW-MFA questionnaire is 31 December (T+24months, where T = mandatory reference year).

After validation the gap-filled data are published in Eurostat's online database around March (T+27months).

Early estimates for the year following the mandatory reference year are published around June (T+18months).

Early estimates for the previous year (only main material categories) are published around September (T+9months).

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

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

See above item 8.1.

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

News releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

National reports on EW-MFA as well as previous compilations of EW-MFA data are available on Eurostat's Environmental Accounts dedicated section.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data online: 

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not applicable.

11. Accessibility of documentation Top
11.1. Documentation on methodology

Information (e.g. manuals, electronic questionnaires) is available on Eurostat's website:

11.2. Quality management - documentation

National statistical institutes send quality reports based on which Eurostat prepares an overall evaluation of the data quality each year.

12. Quality management Top
12.1. Quality assurance

See above item 11.2.

12.2. Quality management - assessment

See above item 11.2.

13. Relevance Top
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

The users include policy makers in environmental ministries, environmental organisations, students and interested citizens.

The indicator 'Resource Productivity' is the lead indicator of the EU resource efficiency flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 strategy.

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not applicable.

13.3. Completeness

Not applicable.

14. Accuracy Top
14.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy is considered to be good.

14.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

14.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

15. Timeliness and punctuality Top
15.1. Timeliness

See above item 8.1.

15.2. Punctuality

Not applicable.

16. Comparability Top
16.1. Comparability - geographical

The comparability across countries is good due to clear statistical concepts and definitions. However, the national data sources used for the compilation of EW-MFA by the national statistical institutes may differ in scope and quality.

16.2. Comparability - over time

The comparability over time is good due to clear statistical concepts and definitions. Revisions in methodolgy are usually applied backwards to the entire timeseries.

17. Coherence Top
17.1. Coherence - cross domain

The data are coherent with national accounts and environmental-economic accounts.

17.2. Coherence - internal

The internal coherence is very high.

18. Cost and Burden Top

Depending on the level of automatisation the costs and burden range from 5 to 40 person-days per country and approx. 100 person-days for Eurostat.

19. Data revision Top
19.1. Data revision - policy

Not applicable.

19.2. Data revision - practice

Each year the EW-MFA questionnaire requests the entire time series starting with the year 2000.

20. Statistical processing Top
20.1. Source data

Member States compile the EW-MFA based on a variety of administrative data sources (e.g. agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics, production statistics, geological surveys, energy statistics, foreign trade statistics etc.). In some cases estimation procedures are applied where no adminsitrative data sources are available. Eurostat provides standardised estimation procedures.

20.2. Frequency of data collection

Data are collected annually.

20.3. Data collection

EW-MFA data collection is regulated by Regulation (EU) No. 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts.

The annual EW-MFA questionnaires are available on Eurostat's website.

20.4. Data validation

Data are extensively checked using comprehensive validation procedures (IT tools).

20.5. Data compilation

Where necessary, Eurostat gap-fills missing data using national and international data sources (e.g. foreign trade statistics, agriculture statistics, energy statistics, production statistics etc.).

Eurostat calculates tonnes per capita using population data (demo_gind). For the resource productivity ratios various GDP data sets are used, namely nama_gdp_c, nama_gdp_k, and nama_aux_cra.

For all indicators (with the exception of DMC) Eurostat derives EU aggregates bottom-up by summing up country data.

DMC of the aggregated EU is calculated as domestic extraction (DE) of the aggregated EU plus extra-EU-imports of the aggregated EU minus extra-EU-exports of the aggregated EU. DMC of the aggregated EU calculated in this way differs from the sum of countries' DMC. This is due to the fact that the countries' intra-EU-imports do not match intra-EU-exports (calculated as the difference between total trade and extra-EU-trade which are reported via the questionnaire) although theoretically they should match.

Eurostat produces early estimates at two stages:

T+18m (June) at the most detailed material breakdown for each EU Member State and the aggregated EU: The early estimates are compiled in a similar way as the gap-filling (see above) from national and international data sources ((e.g. foreign trade statistics, agriculture statistics, energy statistics, production statistics etc.).

T+9months (September) for the 4 main material categories for each EU Member State and the aggregated EU: The early estimates of domestic extraction (DE) are based on statistical modelling (mainly regression-type models). For each of the main material categories a number of potential predictors have been identified which are available by the middle of the year (e.g. gross value added by NACE sections, production volume indices from short term business statistics, monthly energy statistics etc.). Predictors and prediction models are country and material flow category specific. The early estimates for imports and exports are based on Eurostat's foreign trade database (either absolute values or annual change rates).

20.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

21. Comment Top

Not applicable.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top