Environmental protection expenditure in Europe - detailed data and indicators

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

Unit E2: Environmental statistics and accounts; sustainable development

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 11/07/2016
2.2. Metadata last posted 11/07/2016
2.3. Metadata last update 11/07/2016

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description


Data show environmental protection expenditure (EPE). Environmental protection includes all activities directly aimed at the prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution or any other degradation of the environment.

Data on expenditure encompasses different types of investment and current expenditure by several sectors and detail by economic activity (see details in sections 3.2 to 3.4 below).

3.2. Classification system

Data are collected and published from 1990 onwards according to NACE classification. For years 1990-2007 data are based on NACE Rev. 1.1 while as from 2008 on NACE Rev. 2. For some countries data are published based on NACE Rev. 2 as from different reference year, see under point 19.

The scope of environmental protection is defined according to the Classification of Environmental Protection Activities (CEPA 2000), which distinguishes nine environmental domains: protection of ambient air and climate (CEPA 1); wastewater management (CEPA 2); waste management (CEPA 3); protection and remediation of soil, groundwater and surface water (CEPA 4); noise and vibration abatement (CEPA 5); protection of biodiversity and landscape (CEPA 6); protection against radiation (CEPA 7); research and development (CEPA 8) and other environmental protection activities (CEPA 9).

CEPA 2000 is a recognised international standard included in the family of international economic and social classifications. It can be downloaded from: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ramon.

The Joint Questionnaire and the database group the environmental domains CEPA 7-9 under 'Protection against radiation, R&D and other environmental protection activities'. For specialised producers this group of domains also contains 'protection of ambient air and climate (CEPA 1)', 'noise and vibration abatement (CEPA 5)' and 'protection of biodiversity and landscape (CEPA 6)'.

For publication purposes the total of domains CEPA 4-9 is also calculated and published under 'Other domains (protection of soil, groundwater, noise abatement, protection of biodiversity, landscape and other)'so far data on the components are available. For specialised producers this group of domains also contains 'protection of ambient air and climate (CEPA 1)'.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Environmental protection expenditure and revenues covers four economic sectors as follows:

1. The public sector includes central, regional and local governments, meaning mainly NACE Rev. 2 division 84 - Public administration. Data reported are not of any transfers between these government bodies.

2. Specialised producers of environmental services. These are producers operating mainly within NACE Rev. 2 division 37 - Sewerage, groups 38.1 - Waste collection, 38.2 - Waste treatment and division 39 - Remediation activities. These enterprises (both privately and publicly owned) and/or separately identified departments of large municipalities have as their main activity the production of environmental protection services.

Specialised producers could also operate in the activities volunteer environmental organisations or secondary environmental protection activities in e.g. NACE Rev. 2 group 38.3 - Materials recovery. Statistical units which have recycling (materials recovery) as their principal activity may produce significant amounts of environmental protection services as secondary activity, in particular waste management services. Some countries can identify these sales of waste management service by recycling companies and report this together with the data for specialised producers.

It is important to make a clear distinction between public sector and specialised producers. All activities in NACE Rev. 2 divisions and groups 37, 38.1, 38.2 and 39 are part of the specialised producers sector. This includes the public sector related parts such as publicly owned enterprises and waste and wastewater departments in large municipalities which can be separately identified and are thus recorded under NACE Rev. 2 divisions and groups 37, 38.1, 38.2 and 39 in the business register. User fees finance a substantial part of the expenditures of all these specialised producers.

3. Business sector includes all other activities in NACE Rev. 2 that are not covered by the aforementioned producers in the public sector nor in the category of specialised producers of environmental services.

For the business sector , data are also available at the sub-category levels

- following NACE Rev. 2:

  • sections and division: A (Agriculture, forestry and fishing), B (Mining and quarrying), C (Manufacturing), D-E36 (Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply and Water collection, treatment and supply) and F-Q (other business sectors, excluding NACE divisions associated to public sector)
  • divisions of NACE C (manufacturing)

Sometimes, for data analysis purposes, an aggregate called Industry (NACE Rev. 2 sections and division B+C+D+E36) is used.

4. Households: The household sector is the institutional sector of households in the national accounts, considered in their capacity as final consumers. Household purchases are viewed as current expenditure, in line with the national accounts.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Environmental protection expenditure is defined as the money spent on all activities directly aimed at the prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution or nuisances resulting from the production processes or consumption of goods and services. Excluded are activities that, while beneficial to the environment, primarily satisfy technical needs or health and safety requirements.


Investment expenditure includes all outlays in a given year (purchases and own-account production) for machinery, equipment and land used for environmental protection purposes. Total investments in a sector or industry is the sum of two categories:

- End-of-pipe (pollution treatment) investments. Capital expenditure to collect and remove pollutants (e.g. air emissions, effluents or solid waste) after their creation, prevent the spread of and measure the level of the pollution, and treat and dispose of pollutants generated by the operating activity of the company.

- Investments in integrated technologies (pollution prevention investments). These are investments which lead to a modified or adapted production process and serve to reduce the amount of pollution generated. Whenever a new production process is introduced, the environmental protection expenditure consists of the outlays over and above what would have been paid for cheaper, viable, but less environmentally benign equipment. Whenever an existing plant is modified, the environmental investment is equal to the total outlays for the environmental adaptation.

There is no division of investments into these two categories for the public sector and specialised producers because all their investment is included and is usually of an end-of-pipe type.


Total current expenditure for environmental protection includes both internal current expenditure and fees/purchases.

- Internal (in-house) current expenditure includes the use of energy, material, maintenance and own personnel for measures made by a sector to protect the environment. A large part of internal expenditure is related to operating environmental protection equipment. There are also other internal expenditure such as general administration, education, information, environmental management and certification, research and development.

Internal current expenditure excludes purchases of environmental protection services bought from the public sector or specialised producers such as waste collection, sewage treatment, environmental consultancy services, or surveillance fees. All such purchases are reported under fees/purchases.

- Fees/purchases include all purchases of environmental protection services, both from public and private producers. These payments are clearly linked with an environmental protection activity done outside the enterprise and should exclude e.g. fines and penalties. The payments include:

  • Payments to specialised producers (enterprises) for waste and wastewater collection and treatment and payments to environmental consultants linked e.g. with environmental management and education.
  • Payments to public sector for waste and wastewater collection and treatment (whatever the name of the payments - fees, charges etc.) as well as permits and surveillance fees.

Payments of taxes directly used for financing environmental protection expenditure - so called "ear-marked" environmental taxes are reported separately as subsidies/transfers. Payments of general environmental or green taxes (such as energy taxes) are excluded completely from these statistics.


Receipts from by-products. Sometimes environmental protection activities produce by-products with economic value. These could either be sold and generate revenues, or could be used internally and lead to reductions in costs. Examples include energy generated or material recovered, as a result of waste treatment. There should always be a specific environmental protection activity (and expenditure) that these receipts stem from. Receipts from by-products are the sum of the sales value and the value of the cost-saving (if used internally) related to these by-products.

Energy or material savings due to more efficient processes and other productivity gains resulting from environmental protection activities are not to be included as receipts from by-products.

For specialised producers this variable should be interpreted as revenues from by-products plus revenues from non-environmental protection activities.


Subsidies/transfers include all types of transfers financing environmental protection activities in other sectors, including transfers to or from other countries. These constitute part of financing expenditure for the paying sector, and reduce the financing of the receiving sector. When a sector both receives and gives transfers, the net amount should be recorded. Included are payments of so called "ear-marked" environmental taxes, which are not payments for a bought service but where the revenues are ear-marked for financing environmental protection measures. Payments of general environmental or green taxes (such as energy taxes) where the revenues are not ear-marked for financing environmental protection measures are excluded.


Revenues from sales of environmental protection services. Public sector and specialised producers receive the payments for bought environmental protection services (fees/purchases).


Overall framework

An overview of the framework used is outlined in the table below. Environmental protection expenditure can be evaluated both according to the abater principle and the financing principle for each sector. This makes it possible to aggregate different sectors without double counting.  


Public sector
(sector 1)

Business sector
(sector 2)

(sector 3)

Specialised producers
(sector 4)

Total economy


A Investment expenditure

A Investment expenditure


A Investment expenditure

Sum of sectors 1, 2 and 4

B Internal current expenditure

B Internal current expenditure

B (connected and adapted products)

B Internal current expenditure

Sum of sectors 1-4

C Receipts from by-products

C Receipts from by-products


C Receipts from by-products

Sum of sectors 1, 2 and 4

Abater principle

Expenditure I

Expenditure I

Expenditure I

Expenditure I

Sum of sectors 1-4


D Subsidies / transfers (paid)

D Subsidies / transfers (received)

D Subsidies / transfers (received)

D Subsidies / transfers (received)


E Fees / purchases (paid for EP services)

E Fees / purchases (paid for EP services)

E Fees / purchases (paid for EP services)

E Fees / purchases (paid for EP services)

Sum of sectors 1-4

F Revenues (from EP services)



F Revenues (from EP services)

Sum of sectors 1and 4

Financing principle

Expenditure II

Expenditure II

Expenditure II

Expenditure II

Sum of sectors 1-4 (equal to EXP I)


Expenditure according to the abater principle (EXP I), includes all expenditure a sector has for measures it executes. Any economic benefits directly linked with the environmental protection activities (receipts from by-products) are deducted in order to calculate the net amount of money spent by the sector for its own activities.

The financing principle (EXP II) measures how much money a particular sector (directly) contributes to environmental protection activities, wherever they are executed. This means that the part of EXP I that was directly financed by others (through subsidies or fees received) should be deducted, while the part of EXP I in other sectors that this sector finances directly (through subsidies or fees paid) should be added.

The framework is based on double entry bookkeeping, where each activity and expenditure item has an abater (producer) and a financing side. All financing flows should be recorded twice, both at the paying and the receiving sector (as subsidies given and received, as purchases made and revenues received etc).

This means that much expenditure by specialised producers is financed by the users of their services, mainly business sector and households. This will be recorded as revenues for the specialised producers, and fees/purchases in the business and households sectors.

Taking into account the limitations that occur due to current data availability, EXP I and EXP II cannot yet be calculated for all countries and all sectors. The indicator total environmental protection expenditure that can be found in the database is the sum of total investments and total current expenditure. For the public sector, total environmental protection expenditure also includes subsidies and investment grants that are paid to other sectors for environmental protection activities. When this indicator is summed up across all sectors, the result includes a degree of double counting as financing and abater expenditure are added together. Eurostat is working towards providing more comprehensive indicators in future.

3.5. Statistical unit

Council Regulation (EEC) No 696/93 of 15 March 1993 on the statistical units for the observation and analysis of the production system in the Community describes the different statistical units of the production system.

In case of environmental protection expenditure and revenues, the statistical unit recommended by the existing manuals to be used for the business sector is the enterprise (consistent with the requirements of the SBS regulation). For the public sector, the recommendation is to use institutional units and groupings of units as defined in the European System of National and Regional Accounts and the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG).

3.6. Statistical population

The statistical population are the public sector, business sector, specialised producers and households units resident in the economic territory. Residency is defined according to the ESA 2010 rules. All these were described in detail in sections 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4 above.

3.7. Reference area

For environmental protection expenditure and revenue, data are published for the European Union as well as for each Member State separately (if available). In addition, data for Serbia, Turkey and for the EFTA countries Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are provided.

Eurostat provides also estimates for aggregates such as EU28 and EU15 main economic variables, sectors or environmental domains.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data collected at country level are available starting from 1990 reference year.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Data are published in:

  • million euro and million units of national currency (at current prices) for table 'env_ac_exp1r2'
  • % of GDP and euro per capita for table 'env_ac_exp2'
  • % of pollution prevention, % of gross fixed capital formation, % of output for table 'env_ac_exp3'

5. Reference Period Top

The reference period is the calendar year.

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

Presently the collection of environmental protection expenditure data has no legal basis. Regulation 691/2011 on European environmental economic accounts amended by Regulation 538/2014 states a mandatory legal collection starting from 2017.

Other legal acts on which environmental protection expenditure methodology is based include several manuals, as well as a small part of the SBS Regulation:

1) Environmental expenditure statistics: General Government and Specialised Producers data collection handbook

2) Environmental expenditure statistics: Industry data collection handbook

3) OECD/Eurostat Environmental Protection Expenditure and Revenues Joint Questionnaire/SERIEE Environmental Protection Expenditure Account: Conversion Guidelines

4) SERIEE - Environmental protection expenditure accounts - Compilation Guide

5) Regulation No 295/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning structural business statistics is the basic Regulation for expenditure on EP of businesses in NACE Rev. 1.1 sections C, D and E (NACE Rev. 2 sections B, C, D35 and E36). SBS Commission Regulation No 250/2009 implementing SBS Regulation No 295/008 provides the definitions of the characteristics referred to in its Annex I on environmental expenditure under the codes 21 11 0; 21 12 0 and 21 14.0. SBS Commission Regulation No 251/2009 sets the frequency and the breakdowns of - among others - enterprise statistics on environmental protection expenditure. See further details on SBS data reporting at:


6) European System of Accounts (ESA 2010) adopted in the form of a Council Regulation dated 21 May 2013, No 549/2013 and published in the Official Journal L174 of the 26/06/2013.


6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

The data are collected together with OECD. Eurostat collects data for Member States, EFTA countries and candidate countries to the EU.

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 not shown and cells are marked with a confidentiality flag.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Data are not bound by an advance release calendar.

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

Between 1996 and 2012 data was collected and disseminated every two years. As from 2013 data are collected and disseminated on an annual basis.

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

There are no news releases on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics Explained articles.

Pocketbook "Energy, Transport and Environment"

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Data non-confidential and sufficiently reliable are available in the searchable Eurostat database under "Environmental protection expenditure".

The detailed data in the Eurostat database should be considered as the best statistical source data related to environmental protection expenditure for European countries.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable. (Eurostat collects the data from the Member States at an aggregated level).

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not applicable.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The list of manuals provided by Eurostat is available following the link http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/environment/methodology.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

See 11. Quality management below.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

The original data collection is made by the Member States, while Eurostat only collects the assembled country compilations. The quality assurance and documentation of the quality is a joint responsibility of Eurostat and the Member States depending on the producer of the underlying data source. Eurostat asks for each data collection exercise the national metadata about scope, coverage and sources.

To ensure quality of the data Eurostat implements the following procedures/guidelines:

1) Methodological guidelines to assist countries in compiling EPE data

2) Extensive validation procedure of the data received. Excel-based editing tool with embedded macros checks the data for empty spaces, illegal symbols, consistency (totals and sub-totals calculated correctly, and against the figures reported in previous years) and plausibility. The plausibility checks also investigates the development over time of the series for each variable reported.

3) Gap-filling of missing statistical information (see also point 18.5)

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Quality management is good. Validation procedures, estimation of missing statistical data (gap-filling) and quality reporting are in place. The Environmental Accounts Working Group, encompassing representatives of all Member States, Eurostat and other stakeholders, discusses quality improvements.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Commission services, European Environmental Agency, OECD, national governments, scientific institutes and universities, businesses, citizens.

Data are used for a variety of monitoring and analyses.

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

The data sets delivered by countries vary in level of completeness. Eurostat estimates the missing data for EU Member States (see field 18.6 below). EU aggregates are calculated by adding up the individual country data.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy is considered to be good.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable to statistical accounts.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable to statistical accounts.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Eurostat disseminates data with a delay of about 16 months, e.g. data for the reference year 2013 were available in spring 2015, etc.

Countries transmit data to Eurostat with a delay of 12 months This timing is constrained by the availability of the main data sources for EPE (SBS and national account data, in particular COFOG). This availability is as follows: the SBS Regulation requires the countries to submit data on environmental expenditure no later than 18 months after the end of the reference year; regarding COFOG, transmission is once a year at t+12 months after the end of the reference period.

14.2. Punctuality

Not applicable because there is no release calendar.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The comparability across countries is good due to clear statistical concepts and definitions. The basis for international comparisons exists today in the form of:

  • Common frameworks, definitions and set of variables e.g. as expressed in the SERIEE system, the JQ and the SBS Regulation (for detail see section 6.1).
  • The use of standard statistical units, common classifications (such as CEPA) or classifications which are compatible (such as the economic activity classification: NACE)

The use of the Eurostat manuals and the checks by Eurostat enhance the comparability between Member States. However, the data sources used for compilation of data by the Member States may differ in scope and quality. A list on main differences can be found in the Annex.

15.2. Comparability - over time

The comparability over time is good due to clear statistical concepts and definitions. Comparable time series are available starting with 1995 reference year. Data available for the period 1990 to 1994 might have limited comparability due to methodological aspects.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Data on environmental protection expenditure can also be found in the following related statistical domains: structural business statistics and COFOG statistics. It should be noted that methodological differences exist which explain differences in data.

The OECD also collects and disseminates environmental protection expenditure statistics. In order to reduce the response burden on member countries and to harmonise data collections between Eurostat and OECD, OECD sources data from Eurostat for EU Member States, EFTA countries and candidate countries (according to the terms of a "Memorandum of Understanding" signed by both organisations). Comparable data on other OECD countries are collected by OECD.

15.4. Coherence - internal

The data reported in the Joint Questionnaire are internally coherent (totals are equal to the sum of the breakdowns), however non-availability of data at very detailed level (when only totals are available) as well as the rounding could result in some differences.

16. Cost and Burden Top

The overall cost and burden is difficult to assess due to the different data collection methods applied by the Member States.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Every year Eurostat publishes the complete time series, which may lead to revisions of data previously published. Revisions can be due to changes in methodology or methods of data compilation. Whenever national data are revised, European aggregates are revised accordingly so that both data (at national and EU level) are coherent.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Some data revisions are possible in the months immediately after the annual data release (see section 14.1) if countries transmit late their data sets.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Member States are free to decide on the data sources. Key sources are environmental expenditure data from the SBS and national accounts data, in particular COFOG.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Data are collected annually from 2013 onwards. Data were collected every 2 years between 1996 and 2012.

18.3. Data collection

Data on EPE are collected through the OECD/Eurostat Joint Questionnaire on Environmental Protection Expenditure and Revenues (JQ-EPER).

18.4. Data validation

Data are extensively checked via comprehensive validation procedure using IT tools.

More about data validation can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/data-validation and in point 11.1.

18.5. Data compilation

Data reported by some Member States are incomplete in terms of years, sectors or variables covered and there are also a few Member States which do not report any EPE data. Therefore, Eurostat uses a modelling approach to gap-fill missing data and produce estimates of EU aggregates by summing up the gap-filled country data. Eurostat estimates missing data for a specific year, taking into account figures reported in the recent past by the Member State, auxiliary official statistics such as national accounts and government finance data as well as the information conveyed in the data reported by the other Member States for that year. 

After collection and validation of the data from Member States, Eurostat calculates EU aggregates for the main variables and the main environmental domains.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top


Related metadata Top
gov_a_exp_esms - General government expenditure by function (COFOG)
sbs_esms - Structural business statistics

Annexes Top
Country footnotes