Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

National Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Statistics Belgium (A division of the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy)

Time Dimension: 2020-A0

Data Provider: BE1

Data Flow: HICP_NES_A

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)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Statistics Belgium

(A division of the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy)

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Thematic Directorate Economy

1.5. Contact mail address

Statistics Belgium

North Gate - Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 16 - 1000 Brussels

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 31/03/2020
2.2. Metadata last posted 31/03/2020
2.3. Metadata last update 31/03/2020

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) is a consumer price index (CPI) that is calculated according to a common approach. It measures the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. Because of the common methodology, the HICPs of the countries and European aggregates can be directly compared.

3.2. Classification system

European classification of individual consumption according to purpose (ECOICOP)

3.3. Coverage - sector

The HICP covers the final monetary consumption expenditure of the household sector.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The main statistical variables are price indices.

3.5. Statistical unit

The basic unit of statistical observation are prices for consumer products.

3.6. Statistical population

3.6.1. Statistical target population

The target statistical universe is the 'household final monetary consumption expenditure' (HFMCE) on the economic territory of the country by both resident and non-resident households... 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 accounts concepts in the European System of Accounts.

3.6.2. Coverage error population


3.7. Reference area

3.7.1. Geographical coverage

The HICP refers to the economic territory of a Member State as defined by ESA2010.

3.7.2. Coverage error regions


3.8. Coverage - Time

3.8.1. Start of time series

In accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1687/98, each Member State is required to produce a harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) starting in January 1997.

3.8.2. Start of time series - national specifics

The Belgian HICP has been produced since the start of the HICP in January 1997.

3.9. Base period


4. Unit of measure Top

The following units are used:

  • Index point
  • Percentage change on the same period of the previous year (rates);
  • Percentage change on the previous period (rates);
  • Percentage share of the total (weights).

5. Reference Period Top

HICP is a monthly statistics.

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

Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices (HICPs) are harmonised inflation figures required under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Council Regulation (EC) No 2016/792 of 11 May 2016 (OJ L 135) sets the legal basis for establishing a harmonised methodology for the compilation of the HICP, the MUICP and the EICP.
The Commission has brought forward detailed Regulations establishing the specific rules governing the production of harmonised indices.



  • Initial implementing measures (1749/1996)
  • Sub-indices (2214/1996)
  • Weights (2454/1997)-repealed
  • Coverage of goods and services (1687/1998)
  • Geographic and population coverage (1688/1998)
  • Treatment of tariffs (2646/1998)
  • Treatment of insurance (1617/1999)
  • Revised sub-indices (1749/1999)
  • Treatment of products in the health, education and social protection sectors (2166/1999)
  • Timing of entering purchaser prices (2601/2000)
  • Treatment of price reductions (2602/2000)
  • Treatment of service charges (1920/2001)
  • Minimum standards for revisions (1921/2001)
  • Common index reference period (1708/2005)
  • Temporal coverage of price collection (701/2006)
  • Sampling (1334/2007)
  • Seasonal products (330/2009)
  • Weights (1114/2010)
  • Owner-occupied housing (93/2013)
  • Common index reference period (2015/2010)


All relevant regulations as well as further methodological details can be found in the HICP section on Eurostat's website under Methodology => Legislation.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

All Belgian HICP indices at an ECOICOP level are non-confidential. Eveything below this level is confidential and not available to the general public. This is inline with the Belgian CPI which is also only published on this level. The aim is to calculate reliable and provide reliable indices from this level. 


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.


Belgian Statistical Law of 22 March 2006.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

All Belgian HICP indices at an ECOICOP level are non-confidential, indices at lower level are confidential and therefore not published.

8. Release policy Top

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.

8.1. Release calendar

Usually the Belgian HICP is published on the day the data have to be send to Eurostat. The release calender is set by Statistics Belgium.

8.2. Release calendar access

The release calendar can be found here: Statistics Belgium website

8.3. Release policy - user access

On the day of the release the Belgian HICP this is made clear on the frontpage of the website of Statistics Belgium and a press release is published and send out to a list of subscribers. The Belgian Observatory of Prices, the Federal Planning Bureau and the National Bank of Belgium have special access.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Accessibility and clarity Top

The HICP is disseminated on the website of Statisics Belgium. Data can be downloaded in various formats.

10.1. Dissemination format - News release

The press release of the HICP contains an analysis of the inflation rate. It contains a link to where the data can be obtained

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Monthly publication of the HICP and of the sub-indices on the website of Statistics Belgium. The HICP is used in the quarterly report of the Belgian Observatory of Prices.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

HICP database

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Only for the Observatory of Prices, the National Bank of Belgium and the Federal Planning Bureau.

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

The HICP Methodological Manual provides the reference methodology for the production of HICP. (https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-manuals-and-guidelines/-/KS-GQ-17-015)

10.6.1. Documentation on methodology - national specifics

Scanner data

Web scraping

General information

10.7. Quality management - documentation

See Eurostat's Compliance Monitoring Report of 2014.

11. Quality management Top

Statistics Belgium tries to apply the European Statistics Code of Practice in all its processes (see https://statbel.fgov.be/en/about-statbel/quality/european-statistics-code-practice).

11.1. Quality assurance

11.1.1. Quality management - Compliance Monitoring

Compliance Monitoring

11.1.2. Quality assurance - national specifics

Statistics Belgium has an own developed quality management system using an independent validation service which validates data before publication or transfer to Eurostat. Another aspect is the use of Quality Indicators for all statistics. Every year the quality of statistics produced by Statistics Belgium are assessed using quality indicators. The criteria used are relevance, accuracy, timeliness, coherence and comparability, cost and burden, process quality and accessibility.


Whenever developping a methodology for sub-indices HICP guidelines are always taken into account, if these deviate from practices for the CPI then indices are compiled using two methods (see section 15.1 for the differences between the HICP and national CPI)


11.2. Quality management - assessment

11.2.1. Compliance monitoring - last report and main results

Compliance Monitoring

11.2.2. Quality assessment - national specifics

Every year the quality of statistics produced by Statistics Belgium are assessed using quality indicators. The criteria used are relevance, accuracy, timeliness, coherence and comparability, cost and burden, process quality and accessibility. 

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 and contract 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 (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 (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.

12.1.1. User Needs - national specifics

The three most important users of the HICP are the Observatory of Prices, National Bank of Belgium and the Federal Planning Bureau.


The Observatory of Prices uses the HICP as the basis for their quarterly reports in which they analyze the price evolution in Belgium compared to its neighboring countries. The Belgian Central Bank uses the HICP also for price and economic analysis on a monthly basis.


Both of the most important users receive specific statistical output as well as customized analysis.


The most important user for the national CPI is the Index Commission which consists of trade unions, employers associations and academics. The CPI is used for indexation purposes such as wages, social benefits and rents.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

A user satisfaction survey is carried out by Statistics Belgium. The survey and the results can be found here.


For the CPI there is an Index Commission which consists of trade unions, employers associations and academics. This commission determines the methodology of the CPI with input of Statistics Belgium.

12.3. Completeness

Almost all COICOP indices at 4-digit level are produced, at the 5th level, around 230 indices are published.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The accuracy is guaranteed by observing prices of a great number of diverse products. The accuracy cannot be quantified however due to the use of non-probability sampling and complexity of price index structures . Accuracy on the overall HICP level is higher than on a disaggregated level. The main sources of error are:


  • Errors in the sample of data suppliers,
  • Errors in the choice of products in the sample and the estimate of quality adjustment in case of replacements,
  • Errors during price collection,
  • Errors in determining the HICP weights,
  • Non response.
13.2. Sampling error

Non-probability sampling is used. Probability sampling is not possible due to a lack of data and due to the use product specifications to allow for quality control.

13.3. Non-sampling error


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.

14.2. Punctuality

Since the March 1997, launch of the HICP release, 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

HICPs across Member States are comparable. Any differences at all levels of detail should only reflect differences in price changes or expenditure patterns.

To this end, definitions and classifications have been harmonised in a series of legal acts. The HICP is produced according to these minimum standards that may be applied with some flexibility as long as they result in an index that is estimated to differ systematically by less than or equal to 0.1 percentage points on average over one year against the previous year from an index compiled following the minimum standards (Article 4 of Council and Parliament Regulation (EU) 2016/792).

15.2. Comparability - over time

Belgian HICP indices are almost fully comparable over time. There have been several improvements in methodology since the HICP was introduced with the aim of improving the reliability and comparability of the HICP. Breaks in the series exist due to the inclusion of sales periods in 2001 and ending seasonal adjustment for package holidays in 2011.


15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Differences between the HICP and national CPI

  •  The CPI uses the household budget survey for weights while the HICP uses the national accounts.
  •  For scannerdata: 3 weeks are used in the HICP and 1 or 2 weeks in the CPI (due to the early publication date of the CPI).
  •  Some segments are included the CPI (such as road taxes) and not in the HICP. While others are only in the HICP (concerts), but not in the CPI.
  •  Consumption expenditure by institutional households and non-residents in the economic territory  is included in the HICP but excluded from national CPI.
  •  Following consumption expenditure is included in national CPI but excluded from HICP: expenditure of national residents abroad.
  •  Seasonal adjustment is not applied in the HICP, but is applied in the CPI for package holidays and stays in holiday villages.
  •  Effect of sales periods in the CPI are spread out over 6 months.
  •  A weighted 12-month average is applied in the CPI for domestic heating oil.
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

Not available

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 Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 of 28 September 2001. The published HICP data may be revised for corrections, and new or improved information.

17.1.1. Data revision - policy - national specifics

The national CPI is not revisable due to it's use in wage and contract indexations. The HICP may be revised for corrections as specified in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 of 28 September 2001. The general revision policy of Statistics Belgium can be found here.

17.2. Data revision - practice

The HICP was revised due to the introduction of the seasonal adjustment regulation. Due to sharing a production system with the CPI up until 2014, package holidays were seasonally adjusted. They were revised to non-seasonal adjusted indices from 2011. The overall effect on average yearly inflation rate was below 0.1%. A revision also occurred when providing historical data with introduction of the ECOICOP 5, but this had no effect on the overall index

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

18.1.1. Weights

As of 2010, the major source for the HICP weights are the national accounts of the year t-2 and are therefore fully compliant with the standards set by the Commission Regulation No 1114/2010 on HICP weights. National accounts are used up to ECOICOP level 5 since the introduction of ESA 2010. Before the introduction of ESA 2010, national accounts were only available at COICOP level 4. Therefore, the most recent household budget survey was used for the ECOICOP. Below the ECOICOP level the weights are based on various other sources (turnover data, retail trade statistics, market research information, scanner data, ...). Depening on the source they are updated yearly or less regularly. Compilation at elementary aggregate level

A variety of sources is used to determine the weights below ECOICOP level: 

  • For the groups where scanner data are used, weights are based on scanner data,
  • For stratification expenditure shares from household budget survey, turnover data and market research information,
  • Data from household budget survey is used,
  • Data from regulators is used: i.e. natural  gas  and electricity,
  • Data from service providers is used: i.e. telecommunication services,
  • Administrative data is used: i.e. health care and cars,
  • Market research information is used: i.e. newspapers and consumer electronics,
  • Regional weighting information is obtained from the household budget survey.


The level of which weights are used depends on the product group. For some product groups there might be 3 or 4 more levels below ECOICOP, while for others this might just be 2.


A top-down structure is used to compile the weights. The main source is national account, which is used to ECOICOP 5. Below the ECOICOP level various sources are used, this depends on the product group (see above). Depending on the source they are updated yearly (i.e. scanner data groups or telecommunication) or less regularly (i.e. the HBS is every two years). Compilation of sub-index weights.

All weights are based on the national accounts of t-2. Reference period higher levels

All weights are based on the national accounts of t-2. Weights - plausibility checking

The plausibility check of the annual weights update are done by comparing the relative weight from the current year with the previous year. Large shifts are verified with the people responsible for estimating the national accounts if the results are not self-explanatory. An extra plausibility check is also carried out by comparing the weights with the national CPI (which mostly uses the HBS instead of national accounts).

The lower level periodic review is verified in a similar manner. For segments that are available since the last review a comparison can be made between the current and the previous weight. In case of no self-explanatory reasons an extra verification is carried out with the data sources used for the estimation of these weights. The lower level weights are also always verified by multiple price statisticians.

18.1.2. Prices

Price data is based on a mix of multiple data sources or on data from other statistical activities. Data Source - overview  

See Excel file. Scanner data - general information

From 2016 onwards, scanner data of the 3 largest supermarket chains are used for the following COICOP groups: 01, 02, 05.6.1,, 09.5.4 and 12.3.1. The total market shares of these 3 retailers amounts to around 80%. It is planned to include scanner data from discounters and to extend the scope to clothing and footwear or consumer electronics in the future. Bulk web scraping - general information

Bulk web scraping is used for the following segments:

  • One discounter chain. This concerns the following COICOPs: 01 (food an non alcoholic beverages), 02 (alcoholic beverages and tobacco), 05.6.1 (non-durable household goods), (products for pets) and 12.1.3 (other appliances, articles and products for personal care)
  • DVDs, blurays & video games (COICOP and
  • Hire of second residence (student homes, COICOP
  • Footwear (COICOP 03.2)
  • Second hand cars (COICOP
  • International train travel (part of COICOP
  • Package domestic holidays (COICOP  and hotels (COICOP 

Web scraped price evolution is used as a proxy for price evolution of physical shops therefor they assume 100% of the weight of that outlet. Foreign websites are included if the (parent) company is in some way listed in the business register. This is a necessary condition to apply retailer level weights, these are usually derived from VAT/Turnover statistics.

Also a robot tool is used to monitor prices for a range of products (e.g. printing of digital photos). However, here a manual price collector has to go to the website first and mark which price needs to be tracked automatically (we don't consider this to be bulk web scraping and is thus ignored in this answer).


18.1.3. Sampling design and procedure Sampling design: regions - general information

Local price collection is carried out in Brussels and in 54 other economic areas covering the whole territory of Belgium and spread over the 2 other regions (Wallonia and Flanders). Sampling design: outlets - general information

Outlets are for the most part chosen by the price collectors under guidance of the central office. For certain product groups outlets are also determined by the central office. They must represent the existing trade and services network in the area and they are chosen usually on three main criteria: 

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


Wholesalers, thrift shops and factory outlets are excluded. For central price collection usually turnover information is used to sample outlets. Sampling design: products - newly significant goods and services

Every two years the most recent Household Budget Survey is used to determine which product groups have an increase in expenditure below the ECOICOP level.  Market analysis and feedback of price collectors are also used.


If a suitable method is immediately available which allows to include these new goods and services then they are immediately added to the basket. New goods that have entered the index the last year are smoke detectors, orthopedic soles, aerosol devices, sacharometer, hire of apnoea machine, PC maintenance, orchid, streaming services (audio & video), tutoring and pedicure.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Price data is collected every month.

18.3. Data collection

18.3.1. Price collection surveys

Price are collected in the field during the first three weeks of the month using tablets. Centrally collected prices are collected around the 15th of the month.  Prices known to vary during the month (like airfares, package holidays, hotels, international train tickets) price are collected for multiple depatures dates.

18.3.2. Timing of price collection

Price collection in the field is carried out during the first three weeks of the month (starting from the 1st of the month).

18.4. Data validation

The data are checked for internal consistency and completeness. Output files show the annual rates of change and monthly rates of change for the elementary aggregates, the contribution to the index (in points).

18.4.1. Data validation - price data

Test and verification checks are in place in the tablet application which is used to collect prices and also in the application used by the central office. Automatic listings with deviations of +/-20% are systematically verified. Listings can also be obtained for smaller variations, namely +/-5% or +/-10%. Obviously, data entry errors can be corrected by the central office.  Other price observations of similar products are used to reject or adjust the reported prices (as well as by verifying on the website of the retailer when possible). The ability to contact the price collector is also foreseen in the application (feedback messages can be directly send via the application).

18.5. Data compilation

18.5.1. Index formulae

The Belgian HICP is a Laspeyres-type index that is annually chained in December. At the elementary level, most products and services are calculated with the Jevons formula. This index was chosen because it takes into account substitution effects and it is indifferent to the price level of the observations.


  • Price observations: for most goods and services 2 decimals, when prices are expressed with more decimals (such as fuels) then up to 4 decimals are used.
  • Weights: 8 decimals are used.
  • Calculation of index figures and rates of change: 12 decimals for the index and 16 for the rates of change.
  • Publication of index figures and rates of change: 2 decimals are used for the index level and 1 decimal is used for the rate of change.


In all instances “round half away from zero” is used when rounding numbers.

18.5.2. Aggregation method

Standard Laspeyres aggregation is used to obtain higher and top level indices.

18.5.3. Chaining and linking method

The indices for the different COICOP groups are chained in December. All elementary indexes are therefore calculated with December of the previous year as the reference period for the prices.

Splicing is applied for second hand cars using the fixed base moving window method. The window length is 13 months and December acts as the fixed base month. The index itself is estimated using a time dummy hedonic method.

18.5.4. Quality adjustment

Explicit quality adjustment tends to be avoided. This means that quality adjustments are mostly implicit and done using the bridged overlap method. Option pricing  is used for cars, while direct comparison is normally used for products such as video games, CDs, DVDs, books and clothing and footwear. The number of quality adjusments carried out is not kept in a database, so no figures can be given.

18.5.5. Seasonal items - general information

Clothing, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh fish are considered to be seasonal products. Footwear is not treated as a seasonal product (the segments allow for coverage throughout the whole year). Class-confined weights are used for fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh fish, while counter-seasonal estimation is used for clothing

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top