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Historical background

Environmental accounts have been developed in connection with the framework of the System of National Accounts (SNA), an international set of standards, concepts and definitions about the statistics measuring the economy. On the international level, the effort has focused on the development of the System of environmental and economic accounts (SEEA) as a satellite system to the SNA.

Much effort has been put into harmonising environmental accounts across Europe, including links to other areas of statistics as well as harmonised concepts and compilation guidelines to improve comparability and timeliness.

More recently, the Beyond GDP initiative, aiming at the development of indicators as appealing as GDP but more inclusive of environmental and social aspects of human well-being and progress, has given a strong push for the development of environmental accounts as advocated in the EU Communication on GDP and Beyond published in 2009. Regulation (EU) 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts is the legal response to such calls for development. It provides a legal framework for harmonised data collection as well as for future expansion with different modules when they become methodologically mature.


On 27 May 2014 a new Regulation (EU) No 538/2014 was published in the Official Journal of the EU amending Regulation (EU) No 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts by adding three additional modules covering environmental protection expenditure accounts, environmental goods and services accounts and physical energy flow accounts.

A revised version of the "System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA)" was adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in February 2012 as an international standard for use throughout the world. The review was organised by the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA), together with technical expert groups such as the London Group, in a joint effort with the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, OECD and the World Bank.

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Last update 27.11.2013