The gross external debt of an economy represents, at any given time, the outstanding actual (rather than contingent) liabilities vis-à-vis non-residents that require the payment of principal and/or interest by the debtor at a single or several points in the future. 

The external debt statistics are broken down by instrument, original maturity and institutional sector. They also include indicators of net external debt (i.e. gross external debt net of external assets in debt instruments). 

The external debt statistics presented in this section are based on the international investment position. The detailed breakdowns presented for external debt all exclude intercompany lending reported under direct investment, as the underlying type of instrument and the respective original maturity are not available.

The dataset contains the balance of payments (b.o.p.) and the international investment position (i.i.p.) of the euro area compiled by the ECB, as well as European union aggregates compiled by Eurostat and individual EU country data. The b.o.p. is a statistical statement that summarises, for a specific period of time, the economic transactions of an economy with the rest of the world. The different accounts within the b.o.p. are distinguished according to the nature of the economic resources (e.g. goods, services, income or financial resources) provided and received. The i.i.p. is a statistical statement that shows, at a specific point in time, the value and composition of financial assets of residents of an economy that are claims on non-residents and gold bullion held as reserve assets and liabilities of residents of an economy to non-residents; The current account and capital account main components are broken down by counterpart countries. Financial transactions and positions are presented by type of investment, resident and counterpart sector, type of instrument and country of residency of the counterpart

Detailed documentation on b.o.p/i.i.p. can be found on the ECB website