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

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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 03/09/2020
2.2. Metadata last posted 03/09/2020
2.3. Metadata last update 03/09/2020


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 it is produced. It is an economic indicator that measures the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. In other words, it is a set of consumer price indices (CPIs) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a set of definitions as laid down in Regulations and Recommendations.

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

The official country-group aggregates reflect the changing country composition 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. The compilation of the aggregates following the UK leaving the EU (Brexit) is documented in the document 'Compilation of the HICP EU and EEA aggregates following the Brexit'. For analytical purposes Eurostat also computes country-group aggregates with stable country composition over time.

The HICP for North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey (candidate countries) are also published, with their data flagged as 'd' - 'definition differs' (for more information on flags, see below).

A proxy-HICP for the all-items and main aggregates is also available for the USA.

National HICPs are 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 of change (monthly, annual and 12-month moving average changes). In addition to the headline figure 'all-items HICP', around four hundred sub-indices for different goods and services and over thirty special aggregates are available, including the HICP at administered prices (HICP-AP). Once a year, with the release of the January data, the relative weights for the indices and the special aggregates, are published for the individual countries and for the European aggregates. The composition of the HICP-AP aggregates, i.e. which sub-indices are classified as mainly or fully administered by each Member State, is also updated at the same time. More information on HICP-AP can be found in the HICP Methodological Manual, under point 9.3.

Eurostat publishes early estimates, called 'HICP flash estimates', of the euro area overall inflation rate and selected components. They are published monthly, usually on the last working day of the reference month, and disseminated in a news release, in the database and in a Statistics Explained article.

The 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, such as VAT and excise duties, on the overall inflation (more information can be found in the 'HICP-CT Reference methodology document').

Information on the compilation of the HICP during the COVID-19 crisis is available in the HICP methodology page, under 'COVID-19 and HICP'.

Flags

Flags provide information about the status of the data or a specific data value. The following flags are used for the HICP data in the Eurostat online database:

p = provisional data: Data is flagged as provisional by the NSIs to signal that data are still being treated or validated. The 'p' flag remains attached to the HICP data values in question for one month only.

r = revised data. In the case when the most recent figures published differ from previously disseminated data, they are flagged with 'r'. Countries are allowed to revise their HICP figures at any point and, therefore, revised figures may appear in historic data. The 'r' flag remains attached to the HICP data values in question for one month only.

e = estimated data. All the figures of the HICP flash estimate are marked with the 'e' flag.

d = definition differs, meaning that the national definition of a series differs from the European Classification of Individual Consumption according to Purpose (ECOICOP) definition. It is also used for data values from countries for which conformity with the requirements of the HICP methodology has not yet been evaluated by Eurostat, including candidate countries, pre-candidate countries, new EU Member States and the United States of America.

u = low reliability data. This flag has been used by the NSIs to flag data during the COVID-19 crisis for data based on over 50% of imputed prices and therefore considered having lower than usual quality (more information in the HICP methodology page, under 'COVID-19 and HICP').

b = break in the series

: = not available

3.2. Classification system

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 reference month. Each year, the January news release is published at the end of February to allow for the annual update of the weights of individual product groups and the relative country weights of Members States in the country-group aggregates.

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

During the COVID-19 period, the HICP release calendar was kept and both European aggregates and national available data published, in line with the HICP guidance notes (see HICP dedicated section, methodology, COVID-19 and the HICP) and flagged according to specificities (see 3.1 'Data description').

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 are as follows:

HICP

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

Annual data

HICP-CT

Monthly data (2015=100)

The latter also includes data on differences between the monthly rates of HICP and HICP-CT.

3.5. Statistical unit

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

3.6. Statistical population

The target universe is the 'household final monetary consumption expenditure' (HFMCE) within the economic territories of the countries compiling the HICP. The economic territory of the Member State follows the definition in paragraph 2.05 of Annex A to the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010), with the exception that the extraterritorial enclaves situated within the boundaries of the Member State are included and the territorial enclaves situated in the rest of the world are excluded.  Households as referred to in points (a) and (b) of paragraph 2.119 of Annex A to ESA 2010 include all individuals or groups of individuals, irrespective of the type of area in which they live, their position in the income distribution and their nationality or residence status.


The HICP comprises all products and services purchased in monetary transactions by households, both resident and non-resident (i.e 'domestic concept'), within the territory of a country. Some categories of ECOICOP are excluded either in principle or on practical grounds from the HICP coverage:

  • 02.3 Narcotics
  • 04.2 Imputed rentals for housing
  • 09.4.3 Games of chance
  • 12.2 Prostitution
  • 12.5.1 Life insurance
  • 12.6.1 Financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM)
3.7. Reference area

Official country-group aggregates:

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

Individual country series:

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

The HICP is published since March 1997 and covers the time period from January 1996 onwards. See point 12.3 on 'Completeness' for more information.

For most countries, the HICP-CT is published since 2002.

3.9. Base period

The main index reference period currently used is 2015. The index series with reference periods 2005 and 1996 are included in dataset prc_hicp_midx. Those previous reference periods can be selected in the dataset under the option 'Unit of measure’.

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 or 1996=100 series due to rounding effects (see point 17.2 on 'Data revision practice').


4. Unit of measure Top

Index (2015=100, 2005=100, 1996=100).


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 repeals 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.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1148 lays down the methodological and technical specifications for the HICP and HICP-CT and consolidates and modernises (and repeals) all previous implementing legislation.

Recommendations on healthcare, telecommunications, the treatment of rents, the treatment of cross-border internet purchases and on administered prices have also been agreed with Member States.

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

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

None.


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.

If Member States transmits 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.

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 point 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

The data are disseminated monthly, around the middle of the month that follows the reference month.

The flash estimate for the euro area and selected components are  usually disseminated on the last working day of the reference month or shortly thereafter.

In principle, no intermediate data updates are done outside the pre-agreed 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 encyclopaedia – 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. See also under point 11.1 'Quality assurance'.

Information on the compilation of the HICP during the COVID-19 crisis is available in the HICP methodology page, under 'COVID-19 and HICP'.


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Eurostat must ensure that the statistical practices used to compile the national HICP are compliant with the 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 systematically monitors the compliance of Member States with the legal requirements. The compliance monitoring is based on detailed documentation, analysis of data and methods as well as visits to NSIs. Eurostat publishes the findings in reports available on Eurostat's webpage

There is continuous work to improve the HICP quality and comparability across countries developed through several Task Forces and the Working Group.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Not assessed.

Information on the compilation of the HICP during the COVID-19 crisis is available in the HICP methodology page, under 'COVID-19 and HICP'.

 


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 of:

  • wages, social benefit, contract and bond indexation;
  • 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 (EA) 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 (DG ECFIN) 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
  • Czechia: 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
  • North Macedonia: 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, the internet, transaction data, scanner data, web scrapped data, administrative data).

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 networks and they are usually based  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, both resident and non-resident, irrespective of their income.

During the COVID-19 confinement period, the information on imputations is available in the HICP methodology page, under 'COVID-19 and HICP'.

13.2. Sampling error

The HICP is a statistical estimate that is subject to sampling errors because it is based on a sample of consumer prices and household expenditures, not on the complete universe of all prices/expenditures in an economy.

The NSIs responsible for the compilation of national indices generally do not produce numerical estimates of HICP sampling errors, which are difficult to quantify due to the complexity of price index structures and the common use of non-probability sampling. Consequently, no estimate for a global HICP sampling error is available.

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

Several countries have in recent years replaced sampling procedures by the use of scanner data that provide data for the universe of transactions taking place within an outlet or chain of outlets. This reduces sampling error.

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 that can help avoid 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 reference month. Each year, the January news release is published at the end of February to allow for the annual update of the weights of individual product groups and the relative country weights of Members States in the country-group aggregates.

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

During the COVID-19 period, the HICP release calendar was kept and both European aggregates and national available data published, in line with the HICP guidance notes (see HICP dedicated section, methodology, COVID-19 and the HICP) and flagged according to specificities (see 3.1 'Data description').

14.2. Punctuality

Since the March 1997, launch of the HICP, the HICP for the country groups aggregates has 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. The HICP is produced based on minimum standards that 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 4 of Regulation 2016/792 of the European Parliament and the Council).

The continuous work carried out for the harmonisation of quality adjustments and sampling methods across the EU Member States is expected to further improve the comparability of the HICP across countries.

15.2. Comparability - over time

HICP data are considered to be comparable over time. However, due to several methodological improvements since the start of the HICP, some breaks in the time series emerge.  In such cases, if the needed data are available, back calculations may be performed and historical series revised.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

There is only one set of HICPs available. Identical data are shown in several data collections. The methods and results may differ compared to national CPIs.

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

The 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

The HICP series, including back data, is revisable at any point in time under the terms set in Articles 17 to 20 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1148.

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 the final figures are revised the following month.

Major revisions are normally released with explanatory notes in the press release. Any substantial changes in methodology are commented with the first release of data affected by such changes.

In the monthly HICP update, new data are added and the existing data are overwritten with any revised data. Changes compared to the previous update are generally flagged until the next update. In the monthly HICP update, new data are added and the existing data are overwritten with any revised data. Changes compared to the previous update are generally only flagged until the next update. The 'HICP – First published data' (prc_hicp_fp)) table contains first published monthly HICP indices for all Member States and Candidate Countries in reference years 2015, 2005 and 1996, as well as the HICP monthly and annual rates (selectable under 'Unit'). The figures in the table are the data as first published on the day of the HICP monthly release (i.e. not the HICP flash estimate). The table contains data starting from January 2016. Prior to that, a A selection of unrevised series can be found in the discontinued monthly HICP publication series 'Data in Focus' up to December 2015 (pdf format).

With the publication of the January 2019 HICP, the methodology for package holidays for Germany changed. The previously published index for package holidays for Germany was revised back to 2015 using the new methodology. As a consequence, aggregates that include German package holidays were also revised. More information on the German revision for package holidays can be found in the document ' 'Improved calculation of the HICP aggregates and German package holidays methodological change'.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

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

The type of survey used is chosen by each NSI. 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. The HICP samples must be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to remain representative of the target universe. The HICP incorporates a new product when it achieves a share of over one part per thousand of total consumer expenditure covered by the HICP in a Member State.

Given that the HICP aims at measuring 'pure' price changes, it should be unaffected by changes in the quality of goods and services. Therefore, prices need to be adjusted for such quality changes. Differences among quality adjustment procedures in Member States could give rise to differences in results. The HICP is constructed according to rules which forbid certain extreme practices, such as 'automatic linking'—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 impossible to compare the price of a car with that of a 'similar' one sold five years before. The quality of the car will have changed in the meanwhile, and the comparison of prices must take that into account. The price statistician must therefore make a quality adjustment – an estimate of the part of the total price change between the two cars due to a quality change as opposed to 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 be volatile, e.g. to show sharp and irregular price changes within the same month, prices are collected over a period of more than one working week (see Article 8 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1148).

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' HICPs are supplied by the NSIs (see national reference metadata at the top of this document or in the HICP methodology section, under 'reference metadata').

The aggregate indices for the euro area, the EU and the EEA as well as special aggregates are compiled by Eurostat.

During the COVID-19 period, recommendations for data collection and for estimation of missing price observations can be found in the HICP guidance notes, available in the HICP methodology page, under 'COVID-19 and HICP'.

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 countries. The computation consists of three main steps:

  1. Price changes since December of the previous year are derived from the reported HICP index values;
  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 the HFMCE in the total of the country group;
  3. The price change of the country group since December of the previous year is chain-linked to the index of 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 the euro. The country weights are derived from National Accounts data for the HFMCE expressed in euros. The index is computed as an annual chain index allowing for country weights to change each year and 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 changes in the composition, chain-linking was also added to the specific 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.

Methodological information

2018

  •  Contributions

See more information on this new dataset in the document: 'New dataset - contributions to euro area annual inflation' (January 2018)

2019

  •  Information on most recent revisions

As fully described in point 17.2 'Data revision - practice', in 2019, a methodological change for the package holidays data for Germany resulted in revisions on previously published data.

 

2019/2020

  • Publishing statistics after the United Kingdom leaves the EU

General information and Note to users on the dissemination of European Statistics after the Brexit.

2020

  • COVID-19

Information on the compilation of the HICP during the COVID-19 crisis is available in the HICP methodology page.

Eurostat has also set up a centralised methodological corner with notes and guidelines regarding the handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ page

 


Related metadata Top


Annexes Top