The national accounts give a structured and detailed picture of a country’s economy. They thus offer a consistent framework that can be used for macroeconomic analysis purposes. This general view is constructed by using many different sources of information that are put through an often complex and strictly applied methodology.
The accounts are governed by a set of accounting rules and good practices defined at international level.
In September 2014 the new European standard, the European system of national and regional accounts - ESA 2010", came into force for the calculation of the national accounts. The ESA 2010 thus replaced the ESA 1995 as the reference methodology. While it adopted its predecessor’s general principles and foundations, the ESA 2010 introduced some modifications to bring it more into line with the new economic environment and cater for the changes that economies have undergone during the past twenty years. The European System of Accounts (ESA) is the European version of the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA2008), drawn up under the joint responsibility of the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and the European Commission.
Eurostat has published a manual on the changes between ESA 95 and ESA 2010, which sets out a description of the changes, the consequences for the national accounts and European accounts compiled in the European Union, and worked examples showing the effects of the changes.
The ESA 2010 is set out in Regulation (EU) n° 549/2013 published in the Official Journal on 26 June 2013. The Regulation also contains a data transmission programme concerning the data that each Member State must submit to Eurostat within the stipulated times.
The introduction of the ESA 2010 in September 2014 was preceded by intensive preparations. For that purpose, and also to facilitate communication with users, the National Bank organised events and published documents in the run-up to the implementation of the ESA 2010:
- General presentation of ESA 2010 (February 2014)
- Study morning on 27 May 2014 on "ESA 2010: national accounts for a changing world" (May 2014) (French - Dutch)
As the production of the various statistics switched to the new accounting standards of the ESA 2010, more specific methodological notices accompanied the various publications. Those notices are referenced in the section on National and regional accounts – Methodology.
The annual national accounts (”Detailed accounts and tables” published in the autumn of each year are one of the benchmark statistical products as regards the methodology, because other products (such as the quarterly and regional accounts) are themselves prepared in such a way as to ensure total consistency with the annual national accounts.
The successive editions of the detailed national accounts therefore provide a key overview of the methodological changes introduced. The 2014 and 2015 editions of the detailed accounts thus contained a commentary on the changes resulting from the switch to the ESA 2010:
- ESA 2010: the new reference framework for the national accounts (September 2014)
- Overview of methodological changes (September 2015)