General government expenditure by function (COFOG) (gov_a_exp)

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

D1: GFS methodology, data collection and dissemination

1.5. Contact mail address 2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 26/02/2014
2.2. Metadata last posted 26/02/2014
2.3. Metadata last update 26/02/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Government expenditure by COFOG function and type notified by national authorities in Table 11 of the ESA 95 transmission programme.

Data are presented in millions of Euro, millions of national currency units and percentages of GDP.

Geographic coverage: EU and euro area, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Main sources of data: National authorities.

3.2. Classification system

Total general government expenditure is classified by functions (COFOG divisions and groups (first and second level categories)) and broken down by types of expenditure on the basis of ESA 95 transactions.

3.3. Coverage - sector

General government sector defined in ESA95 (paragraph 2.68) as including "all institutional units which are other non-market producers whose output is intended for individual and collective consumption, and mainly financed by compulsory payments made by units belonging to other sectors, and/or all institutional units principally engaged in the redistribution of national income and wealth".

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The table provides a breakdown of expenditure of general government by economic function and by type of transaction.

The indicators are as reported under table 11 'Expenditure of general government by function (COFOG)' of the ESA95 transmission programme.

For definitions, see European system of accounts, 1995 edition (ESA 95), and 'Classification of the functions of government' (COFOG), United Nations, 1999.

3.5. Statistical unit

Institutional units and groupings of units as defined in ESA 95 and COFOG.

The institutional units included to general government sector (S.13) according to ESA95 (paragraph 2.69) are the following:

a) general government entities (excluding public producers organized as public corporations or, by virtue of special legislation, recognized as independent legal entities, or quasi-corporations, when any of these are classified in the non-financial and financial sectors) which administer and finance a group of activities, principally providing non-market goods and services, intended for the benefit of the community;

b) non-profit institutions recognized as independent legal entities which are other non-market producers and which are controlled and mainly financed by general government;

c) autonomous pension funds which fulfill each of the following criteria:

- by law or by regulation certain groups of the population are obliged to participate in scheme or to pay contributions,

- general government is responsible for the management of the institution in respect of the settlement or approval of the contributions and benefits independently from its role as supervisory body or employer.

3.6. Statistical population

 Target population is the general government sector

3.7. Reference area

EU Member States, EU and euro area aggregates, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

3.8. Coverage - Time

The legal requirement for first level COFOG (division level) is that all series should start in 1995, subject to derogations. However, in practice, the length of the series available varies widely from one country to another. The provision of COFOG level II (group level) data is voluntary.

3.9. Base period

Not available.

4. Unit of measure Top

Data are presented in millions of Euro, millions of national currency units and percentages of GDP.

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period is the calendar year.

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 dated 25 June 1996, No 2223/96 and published in the Official Journal L310 of the 30/11/1996.

The legal basis for compilation and transmission of the dataset the "General government expenditure function (COFOG)" is Table 11 of the ESA95 transmission programme - Annex B of Council Regulation (EC) N° 2223/96 of 25 June 1996 as amended by Regulation (EC) No 1392/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007, Commission Regulation (EC) N° 1500/2000 of 10 July 2000 with respect to general government expenditure and revenue, and Commission Regulation (EC) N° 113/2002 of 23 January 2002 integrating in ESA95 the 'Classification of the functions of government' (COFOG) as revised by the United Nations in 1999. COFOG level II data and, for the general government, transactions in 'gross fixed capital formation' (P.51) and 'investment grants' (D.92) are currently submitted on a gentlemen's agreement basis.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Data are transmitted to the OECD, the ECB and selected other Commission services a few hours before release.

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

According to policy rules (see point 7.1)

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

There is no pre-announced release calendar.

8.2. Release calendar access

There is no pre-announced release calendar.

8.3. Release policy - user access

Data are disseminated simultaneously to all interested parties through a database update and on Eurostat's website (see "Dissemination format" below for more details). However, data are transmitted - under embargo - to the OECD, the ECB and selected other Commission services a few hours before release.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Annual data.

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

Not available.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics in Focus 11/2006, Trends in government expenditure by function, 2000-2004

Statistics in Focus 23/2008, General government expenditure and revenue in the EU, 2006:

Statistics in Focus 42/2011, General government expenditure trends 2005-2010: EU countries compared

Statistics in Focus 33/2012, General government expenditure: Analysis by detailed economic function

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Not available.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not available.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

11. Accessibility of documentation Top
11.1. Documentation on methodology

Methodological framework is the European system of accounts, 1995 edition (ESA 95), and the 'Classification of the functions of government' (COFOG), United Nations, 1999 as well as the 'Manual on sources and methods for the compilation of COFOG statistics - Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG)', Eurostat, 2011 edition.

11.2. Quality management - documentation

The progress in respect of data availability and quality is reviewed and reported in the internal Eurostat's documents to the data compilers from Member States.

12. Quality management Top
12.1. Quality assurance

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

A quality assessment procedure is in place that involves arithmetic and quality checks as well as checks on consistency with ESA95 and other government datasets by Eurostat on data received by Member States.

13. Relevance Top
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

COFOG data can be used for analysing the quality of public expenditure, esp. trends in government expenditure on particular functions or purposes over time and inter-country comparisons (allowing however for the differences in the composition of government sector and in the institutional arrangements in different countries).

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

13.3. Completeness

All Member States provide the data, however the series length is not satisfactory in all cases.

14. Accuracy Top
14.1. Accuracy - overall

Data for government finance statistics are in general associated with a high level of overall accuracy.

14.2. Sampling error

Not available.

14.3. Non-sampling error

Not available.

15. Timeliness and punctuality Top
15.1. Timeliness

Transmission is once a year at t+12 months after the end of the reference period.

15.2. Punctuality

For most Member States the data are delivered according to the deadlines set by legislation.

16. Comparability Top
16.1. Comparability - geographical

The underlying methodological framework is the European system of accounts (ESA95), which ensures a high degree of comparability. In case of any problems with compliance with ESA rules affecting the inter-country comparability the information is included in section 21.1 (Notes).

16.2. Comparability - over time

ESA 95 requires time series to be consistent over time, which are produced by most of the EU Member States. In some countries, methodological breaks can affect time series (normally on a temporary basis). Backward calculations of time series are provided to ensure full time coherence. However, methodological changes need not always refer to past data. For some additional information on series breaks please see the caveats in section 21.1 Notes.

17. Coherence Top
17.1. Coherence - cross domain

The cross-domain coherence checking concentrates on the consistency of government datasets.

17.2. Coherence - internal

Datasets are carefully checked for the internal consistency. Releasing of non-internally consistent data should be exceptional and accompanied by the caveats in Section 21.1 Notes

18. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.

19. Data revision Top
19.1. Data revision - policy

Revision policy is set at the level of national authorities. In general the data are revised for the latest years according to change from preliminary to half-finalized and final data sources. The complete time-series can be revised due to changes in the methodology or methods of data compilation or major and benchmark revisions.

19.2. Data revision - practice

Data revisions may occur at any time.

Major changes in methodology are the result of legislation, and therefore announced in the Official Journal of the European Communities. However, some changes may be implemented beforehand on the basis of gentlemen's agreements.

20. Statistical processing Top
20.1. Source data

Data are primarily derived from administrative and other records of general government and are consistent with annual national accounts.

20.2. Frequency of data collection

In general, for ESA95 Table 11 the collection of data is annual.

20.3. Data collection

The collection of the data is carried out with the use of the relevant reporting table of the ESA 95 transmission programme (Table 11 Expenditure of general government and sub-sectors by function (COFOG), completed by national authorities.

Once data are compiled by national authorities in the reporting format, they are transmitted via GESMES to Eurostat as well as to OECD.

20.4. Data validation

Data are loaded into the Eurostat Reference Database once validated by Eurostat. The validation process consists of arithmetic and quality checks as well as consistency checks with ESA 95 methodology.

When data are validated by Eurostat, they are transmitted to ECB.

20.5. Data compilation

Accounting conventions are those of ESA 95 and COFOG classification.

Total expenditure, defined according to Commission Regulation (EC) N° 1500/2000 of 10 July 2000, should be consistent with total expenditure shown in ESA95 transmission table 2 (see collection gov_a_main), apart from any timing differences.

For sector S.13, items D.4, D.7, and D.9 are to be consolidated. As a result, for these items and also for total expenditure (TE), the sum of sub-sectors does not equal the sector value.

Data are transmitted in national currency. Eurostat converts into euro using annual average exchange rates.

Percentage of GDP calculations are based on annual GDP data submitted to Eurostat.

EU and euro area series are formed by the aggregation of the country data. 

20.6. Adjustment

Data are not adjusted.

21. Comment Top

Country footnotes:

EU aggregates


EA aggregates





Data at more detailed level of COFOG breakdown (II level; COFOG groups) are provisional.


D62_D6311_D63121_D63131 (S13, S1311) and D7CO (S1311): series break between 2003 and 2004 due to reclassification of social contributions paid by the state on behalf of defined groups of people (pensioners, students, etc) for years 2004-onwards.


Sale of carbon trading rights in 2009 impacting TE at S1311 for COFOG 0506


In 2001 and 2005 there is a sale of UMTS licences (impact on total expenditure at S1311 level for COFOG 0406)


K2 not adjusted for UMTS sales.


Some negative values are being investigated by the authorities.

  The recording of D995 is currently being investigated by Statistics Denmark.
  Due to the structure of the Danish education system, the primary education is not divided into two levels. Therefore, the COFOG education data on primary education, 09.1 is composed of COFOG 9.1 primary education and 9.21 Lower-secondary education. COFOG group 09.2 is composed of COFOG 9.22 Upper-secondary education.


Series break between 1999 and 2000 due to the detailed compilation of II level COFOG data leading to re-allocation between functions;


From 1995 to 1999 onwards, P5 (Gross capital formation) includes K2 (Acquisition less disposals of non-financial non produces assets);


More data sources are available from 2004 onwards. This can create a break in some series.




Data for 1995-1999 not updated for revisions to general government accounts. For 1997-1999 S13 does not correspond to the sum of sub-sectors;


For P3: series break between 1999 and 2000 due to revision of K1 for period 2000 onwards;


Transaction D6311_D63121_D63131PAY is separately identified from 2005 onwards. Before this date, the amounts relating to this transaction are included in transactions P2 and D62PAY. This is likely to lead to an underestimation of P3 (P31) for general government up to 2004. As a result breaks in series are noted for D6311_D63121_D63131PAY, D62PAY and P3 (P31). Furthermore, the allocation of the split between P31 and P32 in S1314 is improved from 2001 onwards. This entails a break in series between 2000 and 2001.


Break in series between 2005 and 2006 due to revisions from 2006 onwards: reclassification of public corporations, better recording of social security funds, reclassification of a social security fund, balance sheet corrections and identification of payables. For more information please refer to "Report on Greek government deficit and debt statistics".

  Break in series in D1PAY 'compensation of employees' between 2002 and 2003 due to a better distribution of employer's social contributions (D122) to COFOG groups (reclassification from COFOG group 10.2 'old age' from 2003 onwards).
  All R&D expenditure is classified into COFOG group 01.5 'R&D general public services'


In the absence of information to split expenditure between group 07.2 ('outpatient services') and 07.3 ('hospital services'), expenditure is allocated to group 07.2.


D4CO: Interests paid by Social Security bodies substantially decreased in 2009 mainly due to a debt assumption (by a central administration body - S1311, CADES) and also to a lesser extent to a decrease of interest rates.


D62_D6311_D63121_D63131.S1311.GF1007: Implementation of a national fund, 'Fonds National de Solidarité Active (FNSA)', part of the central administration sector (S1311) which finances part of the "revenu de solidarité active (RSA)" (solidarity income).


The function COFOG 10.7 covers principally social expenditures related to "revenu minimum d'insertion (RMI) (the minimum wage).


Data before 2005: distributions between functions for some
transactions are under examination and will be revised on a later
stage. Series break between 2001 and 2002 for D7 with S1311 is due to a reclassification from GF01 to GF06 COFOG divisions.






D7CO_S1314.S1311.GF0108: series break between 2008 and 2009 due to bigger budgetary appropriations for State Social Insurance Fund (SODRA).


The allocation of expenditure within groups of division 07 'health' is being investigated by STATEC.


Data at more detailed level of COFOG breakdown (II level; COFOG groups) are provisional.






For D.7 and D.9: data on flows between sub-sectors are being investigated by the authorities;


D.2/D.5/D.7/D.9: series break between 2008 and 2009 due to a new financial equalization.


P.5 includes K.2 since 2010.




Series break between 2005 and 2006 due to changes to the source data (budget classification).


The reclassification of several units into the General Government sector in October 2010 had an impact to S.1311 and S.1313, mainly to functions COFOG 01 and 04.


D1.S1313.GF07: Series break between 2008 and 2009 due to the fact that many hospitals changed their subordination from the central to local level.


K2.S1311: expenditure on license for mobile telephony (UMTS) in 2004 and 2006


Before 2002: D4 not consolidated;


series break between 2005 and 2006 for GF1002 (old age) and GF1003 (survivors) due to reclassification of pensions paid to survivors.


Data are preliminary; series are not consistent over years.


D7CO (S1314): series break between 2008 and 2009 due to the reform of the financing of the Social Insurance Institution


Data at more detailed level of COFOG breakdown (II level; COFOG groups) are provisional.


Series break between 1998 and 1999 for II level COFOG breakdown of D.62_D6311_D63121_D63131PAY.


The allocation of expenditure within COFOG groups 01.6 ('general public services not elsewhere classified'), 08.1 ('recreational and sporting services'), 08.2 ('cultural services') and in division 07 ('health') is being investigated by Statistics Iceland. Some revisions are likely to be made by the end of March.


Data for S.1314 is included in S.1311;


D4 is not consolidated between the subsectors of general government;


All transfers between the subsectors are recorded as D.7, which is consolidated.


D4 not consolidated due to lack of information.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top