Environmental protection expenditure accounts (env_ac_epea)

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)

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

E2: Environmental statistics and accounts; sustainable development

1.5. Contact mail address

5 r. Alphonse Weicker - bâtim. Joseph Bech, 2721 Luxembourg

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 09/07/2019
2.2. Metadata last posted 09/07/2019
2.3. Metadata last update 09/07/2019

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Environmental protection expenditure accounts (EPEA) describe, in a way consistent with the European System of Accounts (ESA), transactions related to prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution and of any other degradation of the environment.

The key aggregate produced based on the EPEA data is national expenditure on environmental protection (‘NEEP’). It measures the resources devoted by resident units to protecting the natural environment. It is calculated as a sum of uses of environmental protection (EP) services by resident units, gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) for EP activities, and net transfers to the rest of the world for EP.

Under Regulation (EU) 691/2011(Annex IV), the reporting of EPEA data is mandatory from 2017-onwards. EPEA data are collected on an annual basis.

EPEA data are reported by the Member States, EFTA countries and candidate countries.

Eurostat estimates the missing values and calculates the EU aggregates.

3.2. Classification system

The datasets use the following dimensions (not all dimensions are relevant in all tables):

1) Environmental economic characteristics: see section 3.4. below.

2) Geopolitical entity (GEO): EU Member States, EFTA Countries, Candidate Countries, Potential Candidate Countries.

3) Classification of environmental protection activities (CEPA). The following categories exist:

CEPA 1 — Protection of ambient air and climate

   CEPA 1.1.2 - 1.2.2 — (of which CEPA1) Protection of climate and ozone layer (climate change)

CEPA 2 — Wastewater management

CEPA 3 — Waste management

CEPA 4 — Protection and remediation of soil, groundwater and surface water

CEPA 5 — Noise and vibration abatement

CEPA 6 — Protection of biodiversity and landscapes

CEPA 7 — Protection against radiation

CEPA 8 — Environmental research and development

CEPA 9 — Other environmental protection activities.

4) Classification of economic activities - NACE rev.2 (NACE_R2): Data are aggregated for publication with special groupings divisions (2-digits of the classification) relevant for EPEA.

5) Sector: Institutional sector as defined in SEEA CF 2012 and ESA2010, with the following groupings: corporations, general government and non-profit institutions serving households, households, rest of the world (as beneficiary, or origin, of transfers for environmental protection).

6) Period of time (TIME): Data are annual.

7) Unit (UNIT): Millions of euros, million units of national currency, full-time equivalents (for employment). The full-time equivalent is the number of full-time equivalent jobs, defined as total hours worked divided by average annual hours worked in full-time jobs.

3.3. Coverage - sector

The data set covers the entire national economy as defined in National Accounts (ESA 2010, paragraph 2.04). The institutional sectors in ESA 2010 are non-financial corporations (sector S11), financial corporations (sector S12), general government (sector S13), households, NPISH (sector S15), and the rest of the world (sector S2). EPEA further groups those sectors for simplification. This is relevant because the groupings of sectors for EPEA determine the data compilation and reporting.

In EPEA the following sectors are distinguished:

  • general government and NPISH (S13 and S15) as producers and consumers of EP services;
  • corporations (S11 and S12) as producers and consumers of EP services. This sector includes in particular specialist and secondary market producers of EP services (i.e. the units of the corporations sector whose principal activity is the production of EP services, classified primarily to NACE Rev. 2 divisions 37, 38.1, 38.2 and 39, and units for which production of EP services is a secondary activity). EPEA accounts also provide information on the ancillary activities of corporations other than the specialist producers (see 3.4 below);
  • households, as consumers of EP services. Households as producers of EP market goods and services or goods and services for exclusively own final use are classified together with corporations;
  • the rest of the world as beneficiary, or origin, of transfers for environmental protection. The institutions of the EU and international organisations are included in EPEA as part of the rest of the world sector.
3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Environmental protection (EP) includes all activities and actions which have as their main purpose the prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution and of any other degradation of the environment. Those activities and actions include all measures taken in order to restore the environment after it has been degraded. Activities which, while beneficial to the environment, primarily satisfy the technical needs or the internal requirements for hygiene or safety and security of an enterprise or other institution are excluded from this definition.

The mandatory reporting  covers the following characteristics which are defined in accordance with ESA:

  • output of environmental protection services. Market output, non-market output and output of ancillary activities are distinguished,
  • intermediate consumption of environmental protection services by specialist producers,
  • imports and exports of environmental protection services,
  • valued added tax (VAT) and other taxes less subsidies on products on environmental protection services,
  • gross fixed capital formation and acquisitions less disposals of non-financial non-produced assets for the production of environmental protection services,
  • final consumption of environmental protection services,
  • environmental protection transfers (received/paid).

A comprehensive methodological guidance is provided in the Eurostat's EPEA handbook as well as in ESA2010 and SEEA CF 2012 (chapter 4).

3.5. Statistical unit

EPEA uses the same statistical units as national accounts.

The building block is the institutional unit which is defined as “an economic entity characterised by decision-making autonomy (ESA 2010, paragraph 2.12). Institutional units are grouped in institutional sectors.

3.6. Statistical population

Environmental protection expenditure encompasses the economic resources devoted by resident units to environmental protection. Resident units are defined as in ESA 2010.


3.7. Reference area

EU member states.

Data are also available for some EFTA countries, EU candidate countries and potential candidates.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Under Regulation EU N° 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts, the reporting of data for the reference period 2014-onwards is mandatory.

Data for the period prior to 2014 are reported on a voluntary basis.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Millions of euros, million units of national currency, full-time equivalents (for employment).

5. Reference Period Top

The data refer to the calendar year.

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

The scope of EPEA and obligation for the EU Member States to report the data are set out in Regulation (EU) N° 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts (EEEA). EEEA currently cover six modules (air emissions accounts, environmentally related taxes by economic activity, economy-wide material flow accounts, environmental protection expenditure accounts, environmental goods and services sector accounts, and physical energy flow accounts).

EEEA follow the internationally agreed concepts and definitions set out in the System of Environmental Economic Accounting 2012 – Central Framework. The SEEA CF is the international standard for environmental-economic accounting. It provides a multi-purpose conceptual framework for a systematic description and measurement of interactions between the environment and the economy.

EEEA present environmental information in a way that is compatible with macroeconomic statistics (National Accounts).

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

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

Confidential data are flagged "confidential" and not published.

Aggregates compiled based on confidential data respect Eurostat's confidentiality rules.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not available

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

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 - '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.

Data are disseminated simultaneously to all interested parties through a database update and on Eurostat's website.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Data are disseminated annually.

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

Not available.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Eurostat publishes a 'Statistics Explained' article once a year after the update of EPEA data based on the results of the most recent data collection.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

The online database is available free of charge at:


10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not applicable.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

EPEA handbook and 2017 EPEA questionnaire can be downloaded from the Eurostat's website.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Under Regulation EU N° 691/2011, article 7, the Member States and EFTA countries are obliged to transmit Quality Reports alongside their returns to EPEA questionnaire (starting from the end-2017).

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Eurostat published in 2017 the EPEA Handbook to assist countries in the compilation of EPEA data, ensuring the comparability of the concepts, compilation methods and reporting convention across the EU Member States.

An extensive validation procedure for country EPEA returns is in place at Eurostat. This procedure checks accuracy, adherence to the reporting rules and plausibility of the reported data, including coherence of the EPEA accounts and consistency of data over time.

For the purpose of compilation of the EU aggregates, Eurostat also gap-fills the missing statistical information, based on data from other statistical domains, which provides additional insights into plausibility of EPEA data (see also point 18.5).

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Validation procedures, estimation of missing statistical data (gap-filling) are in place. The Working Group on Monetary environmental statistics and accounts, encompassing representatives of all Member States, Eurostat and other stakeholders, discusses quality improvements.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Environmental protection expenditure accounts framework has been designed to measure the effort made by the society for the prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution and of any other degradation of the environment. Those accounts contribute directly or indirectly to the Union's policy priorities on environmental protection, resource management and green growth by providing important information on the production and the use of environmental protection services.

The 7th Environmental Action Programme, priority objective 6 'To secure investment for environment and climate policy and address environmental externalities' calls, among other things, to ensure that by 2020 environment and climate policy objectives are achieved in a cost-effective way and are supported by adequate finance; public and private sector funding for environment and climate-related expenditure is increased. Moreover, one of the means to ensure the goals of the 7th Environmental Action Plan is represented by ‘more and wiser investment for environment and climate policy’.

The Commission Staff Working document Progress on 'GDP and beyond' actions calls for top-level indicators on environmental protection and quality-of-life indicators are being developed (Action 1).

Environmental protection expenditure data are also used in the process of compilation the Environmental Goods and Services Sector (EGSS) accounts providing indicators relevant to policy initiatives about the green economy and green jobs.

The policy context is set here: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/environment/overview/policy-context

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

There are no systematic studies of user satisfaction. Eurostat has regular hearings with European policymakers and contacts with the research community and other stakeholders to monitor the relevance of the statistics produced and identify new priorities.

12.3. Completeness

From 2017 onwards, the reporting of EPEA data is mandatory under Regulation (EU) N° 691/2011. Nevertheless, reporting of voluntary variables and the length of time series (data prior to 2014) vary across countries.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy is considered to be good. The data use standard international definitions, the data sources used are official statistics.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Every year Member States transmit data to Eurostat within 24 months of the end of the reference year. Eurostat publishes the data once the validation process has been completed.

14.2. Punctuality

Not applicable.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The comparability across countries is overall good due to clear statistical concepts and definitions.

Coverage of CEPA domains for components of NEEP (national expenditure on environmental protection) slightly differs across countries. For specialist and secondary producers of EP services, data on market output, gross fixed capital formation (and net acquisition of non-financial non-produced assets) and intermediate consumption of EP services are available mainly for mandatory reporting categories (i.e., CEPA2, CEPA3 and CEPA4) for a majority of countries (in few cases, some other CEPA categories are covered).

15.2. Comparability - over time

The comparability over time is good due to clear statistical concepts and definitions.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

The data are coherent with the core national accounts and environmental accounts.

15.4. Coherence - internal

The internal coherence is very high, ensured by the accounting framework.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Every year Eurostat collects the data for the reference period 2006-onwards and publishes the complete time series available for a given country, which may lead to revisions of data previously published. In principle data are not revised in between annual releases. 

17.2. Data revision - practice

Every year the EPEA questionnaire requests the entire time series back to 2006. Countries report the reference year and they may also revise the data for previous years. Revisions can be due to changes in methodology or updates of source data that are used for the compilation.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The main data sources are national accounts (e.g. supply-use tables and COFOG data), structural business statistics, specific surveys for EPEA, balance of payments, household budget surveys.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Data are collected annually.

18.3. Data collection

The scope and frequency of EPEA data collection is set out under Regulation (EC) No. 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts.

EPEA questionnaire seeks also more detailed information on breakdowns by environmental activity and a number of additional variables that are reported on a voluntary basis.

18.4. Data validation

Eurostat undertakes a number of standard accuracy and plausibility checks and discusses the identified issues with the data compilers. The validation process is duly documented in country validation reports.

Eurostat carries out additional quality controls in its internal database when data are uploaded fro dissemination. For additional infornation on data validation please sse: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/data-validation

18.5. Data compilation

EPEA data collection is mandatory from 2017 onwards.

Mandatory variables are listed under point 3.4. For these characteristics, data shall be reported in a breakdown by type of producers/consumers of environmental protection services as defined in point 3.3, and domains of the classification of environmental protection activities (CEPA).Missing statistical information from 2006 onwards is estimated by Eurostat through an ad hoc gap-filling procedure, based on different methods according to data availability. Data are estimated by country and  EU aggregates estimates are produced by summing up the gap-filled country data.

Eurostat estimates the EU aggregates for the following variables:

  • Output of EP services by general government and NPISH;
  • Market output of EP services by general government;
  • Non-market output of EP services by general government and NPISH;
  • Market output of EP services by specialist producers;
  • Ancillary EP output by corporations other than specialist producers;
  • Gross fixed capital formation plus net acquisition of non-produced non-financial assets for the production of EP services by each sector;
  • Final consumption of EP services by general government;
  • Final consumption of EP services by households;
  • Intermediate consumption of EP services by specialist producers

For the 2018 data collection, Eurostat introduced also the estimates of Intermediate consumption of EP services by general Government and NPISH.

Please note that these is a first exercise and data may be revised in the coming months.

Intermediate consumption of EP services by general Government and NPISH estimates have been included as an improvement in the EU estimates of National expenditure on environmental protection (NEEP).


18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top

No further comment.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
Abridged explanation of the characteristics