Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

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. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)
National metadata

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

C4: Price statistics. Purchasing power parities. Housing statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 23/11/2016
2.2. Metadata last posted 23/11/2016
2.3. Metadata last update 23/11/2016

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) gives comparable measures of inflation for the countries and country groups for which they are produced. They are economic indicators that measure the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. In other words, they are a set of consumer price indices (CPI) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a single set of definitions.

In particular, the HICP provide the official measure of consumer price inflation in the euro area for the purposes of monetary policy and the assessment of inflation convergence as required under the Maastricht criteria for accession to the euro.

The HICP are available for all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In addition to the individual country series there are three key country-group aggregate indices: the euro area, the European Union (EU), and the European Economic Area (EEA), which in addition to the EU also covers Iceland and Norway, but not Liechtenstein.

The official country-group aggregates reflect the evolution of the EA, the EU and the EEA. The HICP for new Member States is chained into the aggregate indices at the time of accession. In addition to these official aggregates, Eurostat also computes, for analytical purposes, country aggregates with stable composition over time. For example, the EU28 aggregate shows price indices covering all current 28 Member States since 1997.

The HICP for Serbia and Turkey (candidate countries) are also published. For the USA, a proxy-HICP for the all-items and main headings is available.

The national HICP is produced by National Statistical Institutes (NSIs), while the country-group aggregates are produced by Eurostat.

The data released monthly on Eurostat's free dissemination database include price indices and rates (monthly, annual and 12-month moving average changes). In addition to the headline figure 'all-items HICP', around one hundred sub-indices for different goods and services and over thirty special aggregates are made available. Once a year, with the release of the January data, the relative weights for the indices, including the special aggregates, are published for the individual countries and for the country groups.

Early estimates of the overall inflation rate for the euro area, as well as of selected components, are published monthly, usually on the last working day of the reference month, in a News Release, in the database and in a Statistics Explained article. They are called 'HICP flash estimates'.

HICP at constant tax rates (HICP-CT) follows the same computation principles as the HICP, but is based on prices at constant tax rates. The comparison with the standard HICP can show the potential impact of changes in indirect taxes (e.g. VAT and excise duties) on the overall inflation (more information).

3.2. Classification system

The HICPs are currently classified according to the ECOICOP (European Classification of individual consumption by purpose).

Main ECOICOP headings:
00. All-items (total or all-items index/rate)
01. Food and non-alcoholic beverages
02. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
03. Clothing and footwear
04. Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels
05. Furnishings, Household equipment and routine maintenance of the house
06. Health
07. Transport
08. Communication
09. Recreation and culture
10. Education
11. Restaurants and hotels
12. Miscellaneous goods and services

Additionally, Eurostat produces special aggregates that are derived from the hierarchically classified HICP indices. For example, the special aggregate 'Energy' includes all the energy related sub-indices; most of them from the division 04, but also 'Fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment' from the division 07. 'Education, health and social protection' includes sub-indices from divisions 06, 10 and 12. Currently, Eurostat publishes 43 special aggregates. The following breakdown divides the total HICP into four main special aggregates  exhaustively:

  • Energy
  • Food, alcohol and tobacco
  • Non-energy industrial goods
  • Services

In October 2016, Eurostat started publishing ECOICOP 5-digit level indices. Until then only the 4-digit level was available. Given that the provision of the back series of COICOP 5-digit level indices from most countries is not possible as far back as 2005, the HICP was rebased to 2015=100.

Data for this more detailed level are available for several EU Member States, and the release of the data for the remaining countries is planned for early 2017.

For more information on the rebasing and revision of the data, see points 3.9 'Base period' and 17.2 'Data revision - practice'.

3.3. Coverage - sector

The HICP is a consumer price index, that is, it covers the consumption expenditure of the household sector.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The published data is as follows:


Monthly data (2015=100, 2005=100 and 1996=100)

  • Indices (table: prc_hicp_midx)
  • Annual rates of change (m/m-12) (table: prc_hicp_manr)
  • Monthly rates of change (m/m-1) (table: prc_hicp_mmor)
  • 12-month average rate of change (table: prc_hicp_mv12r)
  • First published data (prc_hicp_fp) (see more details on this dataset in point 17.2)

Annual data


Monthly data (2015=100)

3.5. Statistical unit

Each published index or rate of change refers to the 'final monetary consumption expenditure' of the whole household sector of the corresponding geographical entity.

3.6. Statistical population

The target statistical universe is the 'household final monetary consumption expenditure' (HFMCE) within the economic territories of the countries compiling the HICP. The household sector to which the definition refers includes all individuals or groups of individuals irrespective of, in particular, the type of area in which they live, their position in the income distribution and their nationality or residence status. These definitions follow the national account concepts in the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010).

HICP comprise all products and services purchased in monetary transactions by households within the territory of a country; those by both resident and non-resident households (i.e. 'domestic concept').

3.7. Reference area

Official country-group aggregates:

  • European Union (EU)
  • Euro area (EA)
  • European Economic Area (EEA)

Individual country series:

  • EU Member States
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • USA (proxy-hicp)
3.8. Coverage - Time

HICP are published since March 1997 and go back to January 1996. HICP-CT is published, for most countries, since 2002.

3.9. Base period

According to Commission Regulation 2015/2010, starting with the release of January 2016 data, HICP and HICP-CT data are produced and published using the common index reference period (2015=100).

The change of reference year causes revisions to a number of previously published inflation rates because of rounding effects. Thus, inflation rates for European and country aggregates calculated from the 2015=100 series can differ from the rates calculated from the 2005=100 series (see point 17.2 on 'Data revision practice').

The series with past reference periods (2005=100 and 1996=100) are included in dataset prc_hicp_midx. Those previous reference periods can be selected in the option 'Unit.

4. Unit of measure Top

The following units of measure are used:

  • Index (2015=100, 2005=100, 1996=100).
  • Annual rate of change (percentage change on the same period of the previous year).
  • Monthly rate of change (percentage change on the previous month).
  • 12-month average rate of change (average of the annual rate of change of the last 12 months).
  • Item and Country weights (percentage share of the total 'household final monetary consumption expenditure').

5. Reference Period Top

Month (indices and rates).

Year (weights, indices and rates).

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

Regulation (EU) 2016/792 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on harmonised indices of consumer prices and the house price index, repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 2494/95 of 23 October 1995 and resets the legal basis for establishing a harmonised methodology for the compilation of the HICP, the euro area and the EU inflation figures.

This regulations gathers previous implementing legislation and covers over 20 specific governing issues, e.g. flash estimates, quality of weights, transmission and dissemination of sub-indices, coverage of goods and services, geographical and population coverage, minimum standards for the treatment of tariffs, insurance, health, education and social protection services, timing of entering prices, treatment of price reductions, treatment of service charges, revisions policy, new index reference periods, temporal coverage of price collection and sampling, replacement and quality adjustment procedures, seasonal items, and HICP at constant tax rates.

Recommendations on the treatment of rents, telecommunications and health care have also been agreed with Member States.

All legislation is applicable to Iceland and Norway (European Economic Area countries), and to Switzerland.

Legislation and recommendations can be found in the HICP section on Eurostat's website.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing


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

The confidential data transmitted are used exclusively for statistical purposes and only accessible to staff working in statistical activities within their specific domain of work, according to Article 22(5) of the Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 11 March 2009, on the transmission of data subject to statistical confidentiality to the Statistical Office of the European Communities. See also point 8.3 on rules governing user access.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The release schedule is publically available and published each year around mid-November for the full following year.

8.2. Release calendar access

Eurostat website: HICP Release schedule.

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 ponit 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') 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

HICP and HICP-CT are disseminated monthly, around the middle of the month following the reference month.

Flash estimates for the euro area and selected components are disseminated usually on the last working day of the reference month.

No intermediate data updates are done outside calendar update dates (see release schedule under point 8.2).

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases, available online.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

HICP news release, available online.

Statistics explained article, available online.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data online.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

See also The HICP dedicated section on Eurostat's website.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Eurostat's statistical encyclopedia – Statistics Explained – includes a series of statistical articles relating to the HICP. More information is available on the HICP dedicated section on Eurostat’s website, including but not limited to the following:

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Compliance monitoring Information notes are available in the Eurostat's HICP site, under 'Methodology' => Compliance monitoring.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Eurostat must ensure that the statistical practices used to compile national HICP are compliant with HICP methodological requirements and that good practices in the field of consumer price indices are being followed. To that end Eurostat undertakes compliance monitoring visits to Member States during which it reviews HICP methodological issues.

Given the importance of the accuracy, reliability and comparability of the HICP, Eurostat monitors systematically compliance of Member States with the legal requirement to ensure that they are adhered to. The compliance monitoring is based on detailed documentation, analysis of data and methods as well as visits to the Member States in order to discuss with those responsible for the production of the HICP in the NSIs. Eurostat publishes the findings in reports posted on Eurostat's webpage. Eurostat also follows up the implementation of the report findings.

There is continuous work to improve the quality and comparability of the index, developed through several Task Forces and a Working Group.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Not assessed.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

In addition to being a general measure of inflation, the HICP is also used in the areas below:

  • Wage, social benefit and contract indexation;
  • Input to economic forecasting and analysis;
  • Measuring specific price trends;
  • Accounting purposes and deflating other series;
  • Inflation targeting by central banks;
  • Cross-country economic comparisons.

The euro area (evolving composition) index is used by the European Central Bank (ECB) as the main indicator for monetary policy management. The ECB and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs use the HICP for assessing price stability and price convergence required for entry into European Monetary Union.

Other users include: National Central Banks; financial institutions; economic analysts; the media; and the public at large.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

No information.

12.3. Completeness

HICP indices and weights are available since January 1996.

Specific data availability list of COICOPs not starting in January 1996:

  • Bulgaria: since December 1996
  • Czech Republic: 3 and 4-digit COICOPs: since December 1999. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Croatia: All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1998. (3 and 4-digit COICOPs: since December 2004)
  • Hungary: since December 2000. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Romania: since December 2000. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Slovenia: since December 1999. (All-items and 2-digit COICOPs since January 1996)
  • Switzerland: since December 2004
  • Serbia: since December 2005
  • US (proxy-HICP): since 2001 for the all-items and 2-digit COICOP (main headings)

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The accuracy of the source data is monitored by assessing the methodological soundness of price and weight sources and the adherence to the methodological recommendations.

There are a variety of data sources both for weights (National Accounts data, Household Budget Survey data, etc.) and prices (visits to local retailers and service providers and central collection via mail, telephone, e-mail and the internet are used).

The type of survey and the price collection methods ensure sufficient coverage and timeliness. The outlets from which prices are collected are chosen to represent the existing trade and services network and they are based usually on three main criteria:

  • Popularity with consumers;
  • Significant turnover from consumer sales; and
  • Availability of goods and services included in the HICP basket.

All private households in the economic territory of the country are covered, whether resident or non-resident and irrespective of their income.

13.2. Sampling error

The HICPs are statistical estimates that are subject to sampling errors because they are based on a sample of consumer prices and household expenditures, not the complete universe of all prices/expenditures.

The National Statistical Institutes (NSI) responsible for the compilation of national results do not generally produce numerical estimates of HICP sampling errors, which are difficult to quantify due to the complexity of price index structures and due to the common use of non-probability sampling. Consequently, no estimate for a global HICP sampling error could be produced.

The NSIs try to reduce the sampling errors by using a sample of consumer prices that is as large as possible, given resource constraints. Often the NSIs use models that optimise the allocation of resources by indicating the number of prices that should be observed in each geographic area and each item category, in order to minimize the variance of the all-items index.

13.3. Non-sampling error

The HICP non-sampling errors are not quantified. Eurostat and the NSIs try to reduce non-sampling errors through continuous methodological improvements and survey process improvements such as computer assisted price collection, which can help avoiding coding and typing errors.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

The full set of HICPs is published each month according to a pre-announced schedule, usually between 15 and 18 days after the end of the month in question. The January News Release each year is published at the end of February due to the annual updating of the weights that are assigned to individual product groups as well as the country weights of individual Members States in the country-group aggregates.

The euro area flash estimate area is published on the last working day of the reference month or shortly after.

14.2. Punctuality

Since the launch, in March 1997, the HICP for the country groups averages have always been published on the pre-announced release dates.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Definitions and classifications have been harmonised in a series of legal acts that have resolved conceptual disparities. HICP are produced based on minimum standards, which may be applied with some flexibility as long as the effect on the value of the indicator remains below 0.1 percentage point on average over one year against the previous year (Article 7 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1749/96 of 9 September 1996 on initial implementing measures for Council Regulation (EC) No 2494/95 concerning harmonised indices of consumer prices).

The work carried out for the harmonisation of quality adjustment and sampling methods across EU countries is expected to further improve the comparability of the HICP

15.2. Comparability - over time

HICP data are considered to be comparable over time. However, because there have been several improvements in methodology since the start of HICP, some breaks in time series emerge.  In such cases, if the needed data are available, back calculations were performed and historical series were revised.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

There is only one set of HICP available. Identical data is shown in several data collections. Compared to national CPI the methods and results may differ.

Consumer price index data are disseminated through Eurostat's website:

  • Selected statistics => Prices (HICP) => Database
  • Selected statistics => Prices (HICP) => Main tables
  • Selected statistics => Principal European Economic Indicators (PEEIs)
15.4. Coherence - internal

HICPs are internally coherent. Higher level aggregations are derived from detailed indices according to well-defined procedures.

16. Cost and Burden Top

No information.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

HICP series, including back data, are revisable at any point in time under the terms set in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 of 28 September 2001. The published HICP data may be revised for mistakes, new or improved information, and changes in the system of harmonised rules.

17.2. Data revision - practice

The HICP data are released monthly, and they may include some provisional data for the latest month. These are usually confirmed or revised to the final figures the following month. Other, major revisions are normally released with explanatory notes in the press release. Also substantial changes in methodology are commented with the first release of data affected by such changes.

In the monthly HICP update, new data is added and the existing data is overwritten with any revised data. Changes compared to the previous update will only be flagged for a short period; generally until the next update. A selection of unrevised series can be found in the monthly HICP publication series 'Data in Focus' up to December 2015 (pdf format) and can be retrieved from the HICP dedicated section. That publication has been replaced by a table in the database ('HICP – First published data' (prc_hicp_fp)). The table contains monthly HICP indices for all Member States and Candidate Countries in reference years 2015, 2005 and 1996, as well as the HICP annual rates. The figures in the table are the data as first published on the day of the HICP monthly release and remain unrevised. The table contains the data starting from January 2016.

Starting with the release of January 2016 data, the reference year of the HICP changed to 2015=100.

The change of reference year caused revisions to a number of previously published inflation rates because of rounding effects. Thus, inflation rates for European and country aggregates calculated from the 2015=100 series can differ from the rates calculated from the 2005=100 series.

The indices for individual countries are published rounded to either one or two decimal places, in line with national practices. The index levels of European aggregates are released rounded to two decimals. The monthly and annual inflation rates are calculated from these index levels and subsequently rounded to one decimal place for publication. This practice is followed so that the published inflation rates match the corresponding released index levels.

Comparing the euro area annual inflation rates calculated from the 2015=100 series with those calculated from the 2005=100 series, some of the published rates across all COICOP levels might have been revised.

At the same time, Eurostat has removed the rounding that, since the beginning of the HICP, has been applied to the HICP calculation of European and special aggregates for the indices from January 1996 to December 2005 and recalculated the indices without rounding. That way the calculation of the HICP aggregates is now done using unrounded indices throughout. As a result, there are additional revisions to the HICP rates for the data before 2007.

Moreover, some countries, when introducing the fifth level of COICOP, reviewed or are reviewing their product classification or the back data and, when need seen, re-classifying some products in order to be fully in line with the COICOP. In such cases, there are or will be minor revisions of the corresponding data.

Summary information on the revisions on the HICP is available on the HICP dedicated section on Eurostat's website.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Product selection, sampling and data collection are carried out by the NSIs. There is a variety of data sources both for weights (National Accounts, Household Budget Survey etc.) and prices (visits to local retailers and service providers and central collection via mail, telephone, email and the internet).

The type of survey used is chosen by the NSIs. However, all HICPs are based on the continuous measurement of a sample of prices of specified goods and services. The HICP must be based on samples sufficient to yield reliable and comparable results, taking into account the national diversity of products and prices. Furthermore, as products or retail outlets disappear from the market, they need to be replaced with new ones. HICPs are required to be based on up-to-date samples, in particular by banning the practice whereby 'missing' prices are simply assumed to be equal to the last observed prices. The HICP will incorporate a new product when it achieves a sales volume of over one part per thousand of total consumers' expenditure covered by the HICP in a Member State.

Given that HICP aims at measuring 'pure' price changes, it should be unaffected by changes in the quality of products. Therefore, prices need to be adjusted for changes in quality of the goods and services. Differences between Member States' quality adjustment procedures could give rise to differences in the results. The HICP is constructed according to rules which forbid certain extreme practices, such as 'automatic linking', i.e. the assumption that the difference in price between two successive models is wholly attributable to a difference in quality, which could lead to underestimating the inflation.

For example, it is not possible to simply compare the price of a particular car with a 'similar' one sold five years ago. In the meantime the quality of that car will have changed and the comparison of prices must take account the quality change. The price statistician must therefore make a quality adjustment – that is, he or she must estimate what part of the total price change between the two cars was due to a change in the quality of the car and what part is a genuine price change.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Since January 2008, price collection takes place across at least one working week period at, or near, the middle of the calendar month to which the index pertains. When products are known to typically show sharp and irregular price changes within the same month, prices are collected over a period of more than one working week. This rule applies in particular for energy products and fresh food, such as fruit and vegetables (see Regulation (EC) No 701/2006 on temporal coverage of price collection).

18.3. Data collection

The price collection methods are chosen by the NSIs as far as they ensure sufficient quality, according to the legislative framework underlying the production of HICP.

The Member States' and other countries' HICP are supplied by the NSIs; the aggregate indices for the euro area, the EU and the EEA as well as so called 'special aggregates' are compiled by Eurostat.

18.4. Data validation

Data validation is done by the NSIs; additional quality and consistency checks are also carried out by Eurostat.

18.5. Data compilation

The HICP country-group aggregates for the euro area, EU and EEA, as well as special aggregates, are calculated by Eurostat using the HICP provided by the Member States. The computation consists of three main steps:

  1. Price changes since December of the previous year are derived from the HICP;
  2. The weighted average of these price changes is computed, using the weights of the countries and sub-indices concerned. The weight of a country is its share of HFMCE in the total of the country group;
  3. The annual price change of the country group is chain-linked to December of the previous year in order to provide a series with a common reference period.

The euro area aggregate is compiled as a weighted average of the Member States whose currency is euro. The country weights are derived from National Accounts data for HFMCE, expressed in euro. The index is computed as an annual chain index allowing for country weights to change each year and, consequently, for adding new Member States as they join the euro area. For the EU and EEA HICP aggregates, the euro area is treated as a single entity to which data for the other countries is then added (the weights are derived from National Accounts data, converted into purchasing power standards). Note that for any mid-year EU enlargement, chain-linking was also added to the entry month to maintain the correct country coverage for both the EU and EEA aggregates

18.6. Adjustment

Data are not seasonally adjusted.

19. Comment Top

Country-specific information

Links to the detailed country-specific information can be found at the top of this document and in the HICP dedicated section => Metadata and national practices.

Rebasing 2015=100



See Information note and points 3.2, 3.9 and 17.2.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top