Benchmark revision of national accounts in October 2019

In line with the recommendations issued at European level, the national accounts have been subject to a benchmark revision in 2019. This revision, which falls under the normal and customary procedures for improving the national accounts, is being carried out in most European countries. It was implemented in Belgium in October 2019, to coincide with publication of the detailed annual accounts. The other Belgian national accounts statistics have subsequently been adapted, under their normal publication schedule.

Benchmark revisions are more important than ordinary, routine revisions. They enable new data sources and methods to be incorporated into the compilation estimates used for establishing the national accounts. Their inclusion generally helps maintain the quality of the statistics produced, and even improve it. Benchmark revisions also provide an opportunity to reinforce the relevance of statistics by including new economic developments. For instance, this latest revision has made it possible to get a better measure of internet sales, to introduce an estimate of electricity production by households and to develop an accounting method for green certificates. Moreover, another guiding principle of this revision has been to improve consistency between the national accounts and other macroeconomic statistics, notably balance of payments data.

Benchmark revisions can have an impact on GDP, as well as on other economic indicators that are calculated from the accounts. As far as possible and in order to ensure consistency between the statistical time series, revisions have had to be made for all variables from the reference year of 1995 onwards. In cases where it has proved impossible to go right back to 1995 due to lack of relevant information, the year 2009 was chosen as the base year from which revisions have been made.

The publication of the national accounts in October 2019 was accompanied by detailed documentation on the main changes that have taken place. A press release was also issued at the time. In addition, the guidelines of the general revision policy of the national accounts are detailed on our website.