Introduction

The financial crisis, the economic crisis and the crisis of the sovereign debt have stressed the lack of some information in order to be able to analyze the economic situation of the Member States of the EU especially regarding competitiveness and macroeconomic imbalances. In 2010, the European authorities triggered an initiative to enhance the economic surveillance allowing in such a way to detect early macroeconomic imbalances.

The outcome of this process was the elaboration of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) focusing on an early detection of macroeconomic imbalances. This procedure rests on a limited set of simple, measurable and available macroeconomic indicators grouped in a scoreboard. The indicators of each country are compared to indicative thresholds calculated for the EU in order to identify the problematic areas. The scoreboard is produced yearly and is used for an analysis by the Commission that drafts a report (the Alert Mechanism Report -AMR) transmitted in December of each year to the Council and the Eurogroup. The European authorities may adopt preventive recommendations addressed to the countries with major imbalances and can even start in the more serious cases a corrective action that may be enforced for Euro area countries by using sanctions.

There are now 14 indicators (headline indicators) selected for the procedure focusing on external imbalances, competitiveness, internal imbalances and 3 new labour market indicators (activity rate, long term unemployment rate, youth unemployment rate), supplemented by 28 additional indicators to facilitate the reading of the scoreboard. For more detailed information on the MIP see : http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/macroeconomic_imbalance_procedure/index_en.htm.

The MIP rests on 2 regulations of the Council and the European Parliament. The first one provides the details of the procedure applied to all Member States while the second one defines the enforcement mechanism only applicable to the Euro area Member States. The scoreboard and the additional indicators as well as the AMR and the in-depth review by country, when applied, can be consulted on the website of the Commission :
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/economic_governance/macroeconomic_imbalance_procedure/index_en.htm
and on the new website of Eurostat
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/macroeconomic-imbalances-procedure/indicators

The National Bank of Belgium publishes the scoreboard on a regular basis on its own website in order to offer to the users an easy access to the data.

Changes in the underlying statistical methodology (since 2014)

The general frameworks for the compilation of MIP relevant statistics (national accounts and balance of payments data) underwent changes in 2014 with the introduction of the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010) replacing ESA 95 and the Sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6) replacing BPM5.

The national accounts produced on the basis of the new ESA 2010 standards affect MIP headline indicators (all but Unemployment rate). Most of the changes are due to the impacted GDP changing the MIP indicators which are expressed as a ratio of GDP. The changes in the BPM6 affect three headline indicators: Current account balance, Share of world exports and Net international investment position.