To carry out the analysis required for monetary policy, the ECB and the ESCB need comprehensive and reliable government finance statistics (GFS) based on the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010).
Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) statistics, including data on government debt and deficit, are a part of the corrective arm of the European Union's Stability and Growth Pact (link).
Statistics related to the EDP and the underlying GFS form an important part of the integrated system of sectoral non-financial and financial accounts, as they provide a comprehensive overview of fiscal developments in the euro area, the European Union and individual EU Member States.
Statistical concepts and definitions
EDP statistics and GFS cover data for the general government sector and its four subsectors (central government, state government, local government and social security funds). For more detailed information please refer to the "Data information" pages of the respective datasets:
For information about the naming convention (series key dimensions and metadata), refer to the GFS underlying Data Structure Definition (NA_SEC) maintained by Eurostat.
Key concepts for measuring government deficit and debt
The classification of units. Government deficit and debt are primarily affected by units classified in the government sector. A unit is part of the government sector if: (1) it is a non-market producer (its own sales are not enough to cover at least 50% of the production costs) and (2) it is controlled by the government. Privately controlled market institutional units are not included in the government sector.
The timing of transactions. ESA 2010 records transactions on an accrual basis, i.e. when the economic activity takes place, rather than when the cash is paid. The difference between cash and accrual amounts may be large in a single year, and it is therefore significant for the government deficit/surplus.
The nature of transactions. ESA 2010 distinguishes between non-financial transactions (e.g. consumption, wages and salaries, subsidies or grants to cover losses), which directly affect the government deficit, and financial transactions (e.g. the acquisition of financial assets or the repayment of debts), which do not.
Debt consolidation. The general government debt excludes all holdings of general government debt held by general government itself. Data on government loans to other EU governments are consolidated for the euro area and the EU aggregates. Intergovernmental lending relates mainly to lending to Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and it includes loans made by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) from the first quarter of 2011 onwards.
For further methodological information on GFS, please see the documentation below.