Annual national accounts (nama)

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 and Regional Accounts Production. Balance of Payments
1.5. Contact mail address 2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 18/02/2014
2.2. Metadata last posted 18/02/2014
2.3. Metadata last update 21/07/2014

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

National accounts are a coherent and consistent set of macroeconomic indicators, which provide an overall picture of the economic situation and are widely used for economic analysis and forecasting, policy design and policy making. Eurostat publishes annual and quarterly national accounts, annual and quarterly sector accounts as well as supply, use and input-output tables, which are each presented with associated metadata.

Annual 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.

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.


Please note, nama will contain the final ESA 95 data transmission from countries, up to 2014 Q2 and will be received until mid September 2014. After this date, ESA 95 data will remain on Eurobase for analytical purposes. ESA 2010 data will be published in a new dedicated database from September 2014 onwards, called nama10. As countries transmit their data throughout September 2014, nama10 will run parallel to the existing dataset published in ESA 95, called nama.

Further information on the transition from ESA 95 to ESA 2010 is presented on the Eurostat website. There is also a document with information on the transition to ESA 2010 and related data particularities in the dedicated section under "latest news" that will be regularly updated. 


 The domain consists of the following collections:

GDP and main aggregates. The data are recorded at current and constant prices and include the corresponding implicit price indices.

Final consumption aggregates, including the split into household and government consumption. The data are recorded at current and constant prices and include the corresponding implicit price indices.

Income, saving and net lending / net borrowing at current prices. Disposable income is also shown in real terms.

Exports and imports by Member States of the EU/third countries. The data are recorded at current and constant prices and include the corresponding implicit price indices.

Breakdowns of gross value added, compensation of employees, wages and salaries, operating surplus, employment (domestic scope), gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) and fixed assets and other main aggregates by industry; investment by products and household final consumption expenditure by consumption purposes (COICOP). The data are recorded at current and constant prices and include the corresponding implicit price indices.

Auxiliary indicators: Population and employment national data, purchasing power parities, contributions to GDP growth, labour productivity, unit labour cost and GDP per capita.

Geographical entities covered are the European Union, the euro area, EU Member States, Candidate Countries, EFTA countries, US, Japan and possibly other countries on an ad-hoc basis.

The data are published:

- in ECU/euro, in national currencies (including euro converted from former national currencies using the irrevocably fixed rate for all years) and in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS);

- at current prices and in volume terms;

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

Data sources: National Statistical Institutes

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.

Annual national accounts comprise the main aggregates on annual 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

Annual national accounts refer to the whole economy, but breakdowns by sectors are provided by the annual sector accounts.

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.  Breakdowns exist for certain variables by economic activity (NACE Rev.2), by asset (GFCF) and final consumption purpose (COICOP).

All national accounts variables are shown in monetary units. Exceptions are population (measured in persons) and 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. 

GDP - Gross domestic product

GDP at market prices is the final result of the production activity of resident producer units (ESA95, 8.89). It can be defined in three ways:


a. GDP Output approach

From the production point of view GDP can be measured as the sum of the following components:

GDP        = Total gross value added (B1G)

                + Taxes less subsidies on products (D.21 less D.31)

Please note that after methodological improvements stipulated by Regulation (EC) No 1889/2002, FISIM (Financial intermediation services indirectly measured, ESA95 4.78), which is present in the original ESA95, is not required in the presentation of the GDP output approach any longer.

Gross Value Added (GVA) (ESA95, 8.11) is the net result of output valued at basic prices less intermediate consumption valued at purchasers' prices. Output (ESA95, 3.14) consists of the products created during the accounting period. Intermediate consumption (ESA95, 3.69) consists of the value of the goods and services consumed as inputs by a process of production, excluding fixed assets whose consumption is recorded as consumption of fixed capital. The goods and services may be either transformed or used up by the production process. GVA is also available broken down by industries according to NACE Rev. 1.1 in the breakdowns collection. GVA is calculated before consumption of fixed capital.

Taxes less subsidies on products (ESA95, 4.16, 9.47) are taxes or subsidies payable (resp. receivable) per unit of some good or service produced or transacted. They include in particular value added taxes, taxes and duties on imports, and taxes such as stamp taxes on the sale of alcohol and tobacco. When calculating value added, output is valued at basic prices whereas intermediate consumption is valued at purchaser's prices, and thus the difference between taxes and subsidies on products has to be put on top of value added. The GDP resulting is then valued at market prices.


b. GDP Expenditure approach

From the expenditure side, GDP can be measured as follows:

GDP        = private final consumption expenditure (P3 in S14+S15)

                + government final consumption expenditure (P3 in S13)

                + gross fixed capital formation (P.51)

                + changes in inventories (P.52)

                + acquisition less disposal of valuables (P.53)

                + exports (P.6)

                - imports (P.7)

Final consumption expenditure (ESA95, 3.75-3.99) consists of expenditure incurred by residential institutional units on goods or services that are used for the direct satisfaction of the individual needs or wants or the collective needs of members of the community.

Total final consumption expenditure is the sum of final consumption expenditure by all residential units. Final consumption expenditure may take place on the domestic territory or abroad. In the system of national accounts, only the following sectors incur in final consumption: households, non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) and general government.

Private final consumption expenditure includes NPISH's and households' final consumption expenditure. The household sector (ESA95, 2.75) consists of individuals or groups of individuals as consumers and possibly also as entrepreneurs producing market goods and non-financial and financial services (market producers) provided that, in the latter case, the corresponding activities are not those of separate entities treated as quasi-corporations. It also includes individuals or groups of individuals as producers of goods or non-financial services for exclusively own final use. Non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH, ESA95, 3.78 and 2.87) are separate legal entities serving households. They include for example trade unions, professional societies, political parties, churches, charities, sports clubs etc.

Government final consumption expenditure (ESA95, 3.79) consists of expenditure, including imputed expenditure, incurred by general government on both individual consumption goods and services, net sales of goods and services. The expenditure may be divided into government expenditure on individual consumption goods and services and government expenditure on collective consumption services.

Gross capital formation (ESA95, 3.102-3.116) consists of gross fixed capital formation, plus changes in inventories plus acquisition less disposal of valuables. It is measured gross of consumption of fixed capital (i.e. depreciation of capital stock; see definition below).

Gross fixed capital formation - GFCF (ESA95, 3.102) consists of resident producers' acquisitions, less disposals, of fixed assets during a given period plus certain additions to the value of non-produced assets realised by the productive activity of producer or institutional units. Fixed assets are tangible or intangible assets produced as outputs from processes of production that are themselves used repeatedly, or continuously, in processes of production for more than one year. Disposals of fixed assets are treated as negative acquisitions.

Changes in inventories (ESA95, 3.117-3.124) are measured by the values of the entries into inventories less the value of the withdrawals and the value of any recurrent losses of goods held in inventories.

Valuables (ESA95, 3.125-3.127) are produced assets that are not used primarily for production or consumption, that are expected to be appreciated or at least not to decline in real value, that do not deteriorate over time under normal conditions and that are acquired and held primarily as stores of values. Valuables consist of precious metals and stones, antiques and other art objects and other valuables, such as collections and jewellery of significant value fashioned out of precious stones and metals. Since acquisition less disposal of valuables usually is much smaller than changes in inventories, only the sum of the two may be available for some countries.

The External balance of goods and services (ESA95, 8.68) is the difference between exports and imports of goods and services (ESA93, 3.128-3.146). It may be calculated separately for transactions in goods and in services. Exports of goods and services consist of transactions in goods and services (sales, barter, gifts or grants) from residents to non-residents (ESA95, 3.128). Imports of goods and services consist of transactions in goods and services (purchases, barter, gifts or grants) from non-residents to residents (ESA95, 3.129). Imports and exports of goods are to be valued free on board (f.o.b.) at the border of the exporting country. Imports of services are to be valued at purchasers' prices and exports of services at basic prices.


c. GDP Income approach

GDP income components and other income measures are only available at current prices, because purely monetary flows can not naturally be decomposed into a price and a volume component. They may, however, be converted to "real terms" by applying an appropriate deflator. The central variables given are related with each other according to the following equations:

GDP        = compensation of employees (D.1)

                + gross operating surplus and mixed income (B.2g and B.3g)

                + taxes less subsidies on production and imports (D.2 and D.3)

Gross national income         = GDP

(B.5*g)                                  + primary incomes receivable from the rest of the world

                                             - primary incomes payable to the rest of the world

Gross national disposable income      = gross national income

(B.6g_nat)                                             + current transfers receivable from the rest of the world

                                                             - current transfers payable to the rest of the world

Saving, gross     = Gross national disposable income (B.6g_nat)

(B.8g)                 - final consumption expenditure

Net lending / net borrowing     = saving, gross (B.8g)

(B.9)                                            - consumption of fixed capital

+ capital transfers receivable from the rest of the world

- capital transfers payable to the rest of the world

- gross capital formation

- acquisitions less disposals of non-financial non-produced assets

Taxes less subsidies on production and imports (ESA95, 4.14) consist of unrequited payments, in cash or in kind, levied (taxes) or made (subsidies) by general government or by institutions of the European Union, in respect of the production or importation of goods and services, the employment of labour, the ownership or use of land, buildings or other assets used in production. Taxes and subsidies on production and imports (D.2, D.3) consist of taxes and subsidies on products (D.21, D.31) on the one hand and other taxes and subsidies on production (D.29, D.39) on the other hand.

Compensation of employees (at current prices) (ESA95, 4.02) is defined as the total remuneration, in cash or in kind, payable by an employer to an employee in return for work done by the latter during the accounting period. Compensation of employees consists of wages and salaries, and of employers' social contributions.

Gross wages and salaries (ESA95, 4.03 and 4.04) in cash and in kind. Wages and salaries in cash include the values of any social contributions, income taxes, etc. payable by the employee, even if withheld and actually paid directly by the employer on behalf of the employee. Wages and salaries in kind consist of goods and services, or other benefits, provided free or at reduced prices by employers that can be used by employees in their own time and at their own discretion, for the satisfaction of their own needs or wants or those of other members of their households. Gross wages and salaries differ from compensation of employees in that the latter contains also social contributions payable by the employer.

Gross operating surplus and mixed income: operating surplus (ESA95, 8.18) is the surplus (or deficit) on production activities before the interest, rents or charges which the production units must pay or receive as borrowers or owners of assets have been taken into account . It corresponds to the income which units obtain from their own use of production facilities. Mixed income (ESA95, 8.19) is the remuneration for the work carried out by the owner (or members of his family) of an unincorporated enterprise. This is referred to as 'mixed income' as it cannot be distinguished from the entrepreneurial profit of the owner.

Gross national income (at market prices) (ESA95, 8.94) represents total primary income receivable by resident institutional units. Primary income(ESA95, 8.22) is income received by virtue of a direct participation in the production process, and income receivable by the owner of an asset in return for putting the asset at the disposal of another institutional unit (the latter being called property income). Gross National Income at market prices equals GDP minus primary income payable by resident units to non-resident units, plus primary income receivable by resident units from the rest of the world. GNI replaces and is conceptually equivalent to the ESA79 Gross national product (GNP) at market prices. Net national Income equals Gross National income after deduction of the consumption of fixed capital.

Gross national disposable income (ESA95, 8.95) equals Gross national income (at market prices) minus current transfers (current taxes on income, wealth etc., social contributions, social benefits and other current transfers) payable to non-resident units, plus current transfers receivable by resident units from the rest of the world. Net national disposable income equals Gross national disposable income after subtracting consumption of fixed capital. It may as well be derived from Net national income by adding the balance of current transfers.

Gross saving (ESA95, 8.96) measures the portion of national disposable income that is not used for final consumption expenditure. If calculated taking into account the consumption of fixed capital, the result is net saving.

Net lending or borrowing of the total economy (ESA95, 8.98) represents the net resources that the total economy makes available to the rest of the world (if positive) or receives from the rest of the world (if negative).

Primary incomes payable to/receivable from the rest of the world. If a foreign residential unit generates a primary income in the national economy's production process, this will be payable to the rest of the world. If, on the other hand, a national residential unit engages in another national economy, it will generate primary income receivable from the rest of the world.

Current transfers payable to/receivable from the rest of the world contain current taxes on income, wealth, etc, social contributions and benefits and other current transfers (e.g. non-life insurance premiums and claims, international co-operation transfers, transfers between households, fines and penalties, lotteries and gambling etc., see ESA95 4.77 and following) between residential and non-residential units. They are distinguished from primary incomes in that they do not relate directly to production processes, but rather are of redistributive nature.

Capital transfers payable to/receivable from the rest of the world. Capital transfers (ESA95, 4.145, 4.146) are defined as transfers of ownership of an asset (other than inventories and cash), or the cancellation of a liability by a creditor, without any counterpart being received in return. They cover capital taxes, investment grants and other capital transfers (e.g. payments by general government or by the rest of the world to the owners of capital goods destroyed or damaged by acts of war, other political events or natural disasters). If the parties involved are a foreign residential unit and a residential unit, a capital transfer payable to or receivable from the rest of the world is constituted, depending on which party receives the asset.

Adjustment for the change in net equity of households in pension funds reserves (ESA95, 4.141) represents the adjustment needed to make the change in the actual reserves on which households have a definitive claim and which are fed by premiums and contributions recorded in the secondary distribution of income account appear in the saving of households as social contributions.

Acquisitions less disposals of non-financial non-produced assets (ESA95, 6.06) refers to land (not including buildings and structures) and other tangible non-produced assets (such as subsoil assets like coal, oil and metals), that may be used in the production of goods and services, and intangible non-produced assets (such as patents, leases, goodwill, etc.).

Consumption of fixed capital (ESA95, 6.02) represents the amount of fixed assets used up as a result of normal wear and tear and foreseeable obsolescence, including a provision for losses of fixed assets as a result of accidental damage which can be insured against. Exceptional catastrophic losses are accounted for as "other volume changes in non-financial assets" which are not included in this domain.

Population and employment.  While not strictly national accounts aggregates, these variables are widely used in a national accounts context. Employment and its components are important economic indicators in their own right, and they serve in the construction of derived indicators, turning monetary aggregates from absolute into relative indicators and thus allowing the comparison of economies of very different size.

Population (ESA95, 11.05) consists of all persons, nationals or foreigners, who are permanently settled in the economic territory of the country, even if they are temporarily absent from it, on a given date. A person staying or intending to stay at least one year is considered to be settled on the territory. By convention, the total population includes neither foreign students nor members of foreign armed forces stationed in a country.

Employment (ESA95 11.11) covers all persons engaged in some productive activity (within the production boundary of the national accounts). Employed persons are either employees (working by agreement for another resident unit and receiving remuneration) or self-employed (owners of unincorporated enterprises). Employment can be broken down by economic activity; this breakdown however is not given here, but in the breakdowns domain.

Figures for both population and employment are understood to be stock values, not flows.

Contribution to GDP change

A change in GDP can be attributed to changes in its components, hence showing which component contributed strongly to economic growth and which did not. A component's contribution depends on both its size and its growth. Thus, a small component with strong growth and a bigger component with much more modest growth may contribute the same to overall GDP growth.

Growth contributions can be presented in two ways: as percentage point contributions to GDP growth (contributions will ideally add up to 100%) or as shares of GDP growth (contributions will ideally add up to GDP growth). The latter method is used here. For instance, a value of 1.3 means that, had all other components remained unchanged, GDP would have grown by 1.3% driven by that specific component alone.

When the volume series are not expressed at constant prices of a fixed base year, but are derived from chain-linking data at previous year's prices, components will not add up to GDP growth any more. Moreover, contributions derived as described above will not necessarily add up exactly to GDP growth. There are various approaches to circumvent this non-additivity of contributions, none of which, however, is without drawbacks.

The following remarks apply for the contributions presented here:

  • Contributions to euro area or EU GDP growth have been calculated from data at previous year's prices, which involves a number of additional calculations in the quarterly case. Contributions of changes in inventories are derived as a residual to GDP growth.
  • Contributions to national GDP growth of single countries are, for all components, calculated according to the simple formula given above, regardless of whether national data are at constant prices or chain-linked. In the latter case, the contributions can only be considered as approximations. Usually they will not be additive and may differ from contributions published nationally.

Some annual variables are also measured in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS). These are fictive 'currency' units that remove differences in purchasing power, i.e. different price levels between countries. Thus, the same nominal aggregate in two countries with different price levels may result in different amounts of purchasing power. Figures expressed in Purchasing Power Standards are derived from figures expressed in national currency by using Purchasing Power Parities (PPP) as conversion factors. These parities are obtained as a weighted average of relative price ratios in respect to a homogeneous basket of goods and services, both comparable and representative for each country. They are fixed in a way that makes the average purchasing power of one euro in the European Union equal to one PPS.

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).

EU Member States and EFTA countries have legal obligations to submit their data to Eurostat. These data are the inputs for Eurostat's estimates of EU and euro area. Candidate Countries are required to improve their compliance with the Acquis step by step and expected to also regularly deliver available data to Eurostat. 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. 

Forecasts (usually two years ahead) for national and European series based on forecasted growth produced by the Commission's General Directorate Economy and Finance (DG ECFIN) may be retrieved from DG ECFIN's website:

3.9. Base period

When flows and stocks are valued at the price level in the accounting period they are said to be valued at current prices. Valuation at constant prices (ESA95, 1.25d, 1.56) means valuing flows and stocks at the price of a previous period (called base year). The purpose of the valuation at constant prices is to assess the dynamics of economic development irrespective of price movements (see also Eurostat's "Handbook on price and volume measures in national accounts" for more details). This is achieved by decomposing changes of values over time into changes in prices and changes in volume. Price, value and volume are related via the following central equation:

Value = Volume × Price

Flows and stocks at constant prices are hence said to be in volume terms.

The base year for computation of constant prices is traditionally a single, fixed benchmark year, which is moved ahead about each five years. The whole time series available is then expressed in prices of the new base year.

The calculations to transform the price levels from the current year to the base year were traditionally done in one step. A drawback of this practice is 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 must 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 with 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.  For example, GDP growth for the year 2001 is calculated by dividing GDP 2001 at previous year's prices by GDP 2000 at current prices. Note that both figures are, effectively, expressed in prices of 2000. GDP growth for the year 2002 is in turn calculated by dividing GDP 2002 at previous year's prices by GDP 2001 at current prices. Note that here, both figures are expressed in prices of 2001. 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. The choice of reference year in chain-linking is arbitrary and a mere convention without effect on growth rates (unlike the choice for a fixed base year, which can have a significant effect on growth rates).

While the moving price base brings more accurate description of economic developments, it comes at a price: chain-linking involves the loss of additivity (i.e. the total does not equal the sum of the parts) for all years except the reference year and the directly following year, which are the only ones actually expressed purely in prices of the reference year. For other years, chain-linked components of GDP will 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 not directly supplied (such as total demand = consumption (P3) + capital formation (P5) + exports (P6)) 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). These are available only at current prices and at previous year's prices.

A common presentation of volume data for countries is difficult because they use different calculation methods. Eurostat's online database offers the following:

  • Chained level series for EU Member States using the standard reference year 2005 and the previous standard reference year 2000. For countries sending data using other base years, the reference year is shifted where necessary.
  • Levels at prices of the previous year: These figures are intended as input for advanced users to allow construction of custom aggregations and derived measures. Since the price base changes every year, the figures do not constitute a homogeneous time series, so in particular growth rates cannot be derived directly from them. Figures are given only as far as supplied by NSIs.
  • Growth rates: Growth rates are derived mechanically from the level series mentioned above (they all give the same growth rates).
  • Index series: Index series are derived mechanically from the level series mentioned above. Index series are given for reference years 2000 and 2005. Both series only differ by a scaling factor.
  • 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).

Price indices (deflators) are calculated implicitly by dividing an aggregate measured at current prices by the same aggregate measured at constant prices, the result being multiplied by 100. National accounts aggregates are compiled in value (nominal terms, current prices) and volume (constant prices). Prices (deflators) are implicitly derived from the other two. Some direct price observations enter into the volume compilation of individual variables, but the deflators are aggregate measures of price developments. For direct observations of price dynamics, please consult the price statistics domain on Eurostat's online database.

Implicit deflators are named after the aggregate used. Final consumption expenditure deflators, gross capital formation deflators, export and import deflators measure price movements in their respective domain of the economy.

4. Unit of measure Top

The data are published in ECU/euro, in national currencies (including euro converted from former national currencies using the irrevocably fixed rate for all years) and in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) 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 year, 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). There is a list of legal amendments here.

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

If Member States transmit data with a confidentiality flag or an embargo date, these data are not disseminated until the confidentiality flag is removed in a subsequent data transmission or the embargo expired.

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:; see “release calendar” or the annual planning published in the dedicated section: "National accounts (including GDP)" under “Don’t miss”

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


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

There is no specific news release for annual main national accounts aggregates, but the first estimates of EU/EA annual growth are published with the quarterly national accounts flash release and second news releases for the fourth quarter, and annual data are estimated and updated with the subsequent quarterly releases announced on on the website “National accounts (including GDP)” under “Don’t miss”. 

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics in Focus and Statistics Explained (irregular); data are also used in various other publications.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult the respective section of Eurostat’s public database. Estimations of annual main European national accounts aggregates are updated in line with the regular quarterly estimates (see 10.1). Member States’ annual data are published shortly after their transmission, with first estimates generally due at t+70 days and t+9 months (for details see ESA 95 transmission programme). 

Please consult NSI's websites to get national dissemination calendar.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

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 ESA95 (see link above under "6.1 Legal acts and other agreements ").

11.2. Quality management - documentation

Not available.

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.

13. Relevance Top
13.1. Relevance - User Needs

Users of annual national accounts data (ANA) are typically interested in analysing structural changes in the economy from a medium-term perspective.

13.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Annual national accounts data (ANA) are a key instrument for economic analyisis.

13.3. Completeness

Annual national accounts data (ANA) provide detailed breakdowns on production, consumption, investment and income.

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 applicable.

14.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

15. Timeliness and punctuality Top
15.1. Timeliness

Eurostat releases the annual European growth rates after 45 days (i.e. mid-February of the following year). A more complete set of variables is released after 65 days (i.e. mid-March of the following year). Some breakdowns, notably by 31 industries, detailed exports/imports and household final consumption by COICOP 3 digits, are released later, in October/November. Fixed assets broken down by industry and product type are released after 24 months.

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

Eurostat releases its estimates of European aggregates in line with the pre-announced release schedule. Member states' data are revised according to national schedules, and revisions are applied to Eurostat’s online database as soon as they become available to Eurostat.

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, in particular the domain on quarterly 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.

18. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.


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+100 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 (see 8.2). On these 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. Annual data may be revised twice every quarter with the release of quarterly figures.

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 need not always 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

Member States should transmit national accounts data to Eurostat upon national publication and/or in line with the deadlines specified in the current (ESA 95) transmission programme. Member States’ annual main aggregates are generally due at t+70 days and t+9 months (see also 10.3). 

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 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.

Some annual variables are also measured in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS). These are fictive 'currency' units that remove differences in purchasing power, i.e. different price levels between countries. Thus, the same nominal aggregate in two countries with different price levels may result in different amounts of purchasing power. Figures expressed in Purchasing Power Standards are derived from figures expressed in national currency by using Purchasing Power Parities (PPP) as conversion factors. These parities are obtained as a weighted average of relative price ratios in respect to a homogeneous basket of goods and services, both comparable and representative for each country. They are fixed in a way that makes the average purchasing power of one euro in the European Union equal to one PPS. The calculation of GDP in PPS is intended to allow the comparison of levels of economic activity of different sized economies irrespective of their price levels. Currently, the PPP calculated on total GDP level is used for all national accounts variables expressed in PPS. However, specific PPP for a number of expenditure components of GDP are available from the price data domain in Eurostat's online database.

PPP and related economic indicators are constructed primarily for spatial comparison and not for comparison over time. Particularly, GDP in PPS should not be used to derive growth rates. Actually, a spatial comparison is not affected if the PPP for all countries are rescaled by a constant factor. Eurostat does that in applying a scaling (or centering) coefficient to the original PPP in such a way that the for the EU27, GDP expressed in Euro and in PPS is identical, and the EU27 average hence becomes the reference for purchasing power comparisons in the EU. This holds when the PPP are updated, in between, small differences may arise from subsequent revisions to Member States' data.

As the PPS is an "artificial" currency, different unit values can be fixed by scaling, for example scaling one PPS to equal the purchasing power of one US Dollar in the US. Because of this, national accounts variables in PPS published by Eurostat can differ from other organisations', particularly OECD's.

EU and Euro-area aggregates for imports and exports contain both intra-EU and extra-EU imports and exports.

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 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.

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

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
ei_qna_esms - National accounts
lfsi_grt_a_esms - Employment growth and activity branches - annual averages
namq_esms - Quarterly national accounts
reg_ecobrch_esms - Branch accounts - ESA95
t2020_rd100_esmsip - Productivity of artificial land
t2020_rd210_esmsip - Water productivity
t2020_rd310_esmsip - Energy productivity
t2020_rt200_esmsip - Eco-innovation index
tsdec100_esmsip - Real GDP per capita, growth rate and totals
tsdec310_esmsip - Labour productivity per hour worked (ESA95)

Annexes Top