From national to European accounts

The national accounts transmitted by Member States record economic transactions and financial balance sheets in the national currency. The same applies to the balance of payments and the international investment position. Several steps are necessary to convert these national data sets into European accounts.

Conversion to euro

For the Member States not participating in the euro area, for Greece in 1999 and 2000, for Lithuania prior to 2005, Slovenia prior to 2007, for Cyprus and Malta prior to 2008, for Slovakia prior to 2009 and for Latvia prior to 2014, transactions have been converted into euro using the average exchange rates for each quarter of the reference period. The growth rates of transactions for the EU are thus affected by movements in exchange rates and should be interpreted with caution. These movements have almost no impact on ratios such as entrepreneurial income shares or saving rates. Exchange rate movements hardly affect the euro area accounts.

EU institutions and other European bodies

The EU institutions and other European bodies are not considered to be part of the domestic economy in the national accounts compiled by the Member States. By contrast, the European institutions are part of the domestic sectors of the EU economy.

The ECB is included in the financial corporations sector in both the euro area and the EU accounts. All other European institutions are treated as non-resident in the euro area accounts as their administrative competence goes beyond the euro area; they are, however, treated as resident in the EU accounts. With the exception of the European Investment Bank, which is classified in the financial corporations sector, all European institutions are classified in the EU government sector.

The rest of the world in the European accounts

The rest of the world accounts, as compiled by Member States, record transactions and financial balance sheets between the national economy and all non-resident units, including those in other EU Member States. To measure the external transactions and financial balance sheets of the euro area/EU, it is necessary to remove cross-border flows and financial claims within the area concerned. In this respect, the European accounts draw on both the national and the European balance of payments and international investment position statistics.

For cross-border transactions within the area, total resources should equal total uses. For instance, exports within the euro area should equal imports. The same applies to the outstanding financial claims and liabilities. In practice a comparison of the national statistics reveals discrepancies ("asymmetries"), which have been eliminated to obtain a consistent set of accounts. This may lead to some differences with other national accounts publications, in which cross border flows within the area concerned have not yet been removed.

Euro area accounts - integrated non-financial and financial accounts

The euro area accounts integrate non-financial and financial accounts, including financial balance sheets. These accounts are integrated in three dimensions.

First, as explained in the European sector accounts part, total uses equal total resources, and total financial assets equal total liabilities, for each (non-financial or financial) transaction category and each financial balance sheet category, when summed over all institutional sectors and the rest of the world (horizontal consistency)(1). For example, total interest revenue of all sectors and the rest of the world combined is equal to total interest expenditure.

Second, for each sector and the rest of the world the balance of all current and capital transactions should be equal to the balance of all financial transactions (vertical consistency). For example, the difference between total government expenditure and revenue is equal to the difference between its net incurrence of liabilities and its net acquisition of financial assets.When comparing the data from the different statistical sources for the non-financial and the financial accounts, this may in the first instance not yield an identical estimate for this balancing item. In the euro area accounts, such 'statistical discrepancies' do not anymore occur for the government and financial corporations sectors and for the rest of the world account. There are still some discrepancies, equal in size but opposite in sign, for the households and non-financial corporations sectors.

Third, the change in financial balance sheets is for each financial asset category equal to the sum of the financial transactions and the other changes, like revaluations of assets (stock-flow consistency). For example, the change in the value of quoted shares held by households is equal to the difference between their purchases and sales of shares plus the revaluations of their share holdings due to changes in share prices during the reference period.

(1) The asset category Monetary gold and special drawing rights (AF.1) is the only exception as no counterpart liability exists.

European accounts and national accounts of the Member States

Summarizing, the euro area/EU accounts are based on, but are not just the sum of, the national accounts of the Member States. First, cross-border transactions and financial claims between European countries have been eliminated from the rest of the world accounts. Second, the European institutions and bodies have been added. Third, inconsistencies in country data, such as the "asymmetries" have been eliminated.