Maastricht deficit and debt level
Under the European budgetary surveillance procedure, EU member states are obliged to submit data on general government deficit and debt levels to the European Commission (Maastricht returns) twice a year (end of March and end of September). These data are checked and published by Eurostat. If there are any doubts about the quality of the reported data, Eurostat may publicly express its reservations. Eurostat also has the right to amend reported data if there is evidence that they do not comply with the EU's data quality requirements. Further details are laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2009, last amended by Regulation (EC) No 679/2010.
The statistical definition of the data to be reported is based on the definitions in the national accounts (ESA95), which are specified in detail in Eurostat's "Manual on Government Deficit and Debt – Implementation of ESA95" and in other Eurostat decisions and instructions regarding specific accounting issues. Relevant publications are posted on Eurostat's website.
In Germany, the historical data to be reported for the government sector are compiled by the Federal Statistical Office and the Bundesbank. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Finance provides estimates for the current year and is responsible for transmitting these projections and the historical data to the European Commission.
The Federal Statistical Office calculates the Maastricht deficit, which corresponds to the figure for net borrowing pursuant to ESA95 (but including interest flows attributable to swaps and forward rate agreements), and matches the deficit as defined in the national financial statistics with the Maastricht deficit. Details are published on the Federal Statistical Office's website under National accounts. The Maastricht debt level is calculated by the Bundesbank. Furthermore, reconciliation accounts match the Maastricht deficit with the change in the Maastricht debt level.
Maastricht debt level and reconciliation accounts
Table 1 of the Maastricht notification contains the data for calculating a country's deficit and debt ratios as defined in the European budgetary surveillance procedure.In addition, the table provides an overview of the deficits at the different levels of government (central government, state government, local government, social security funds; includes off-budget entities as per the national accounts allocation), a breakdown of the debt structure by instrument category, and data on investment outlays, interest expenditure and nominal GDP.
The report on the Maastricht debt level must list the individual components at their nominal value and include the following items: currency and deposits (coins in circulation), money market and capital market instruments, and short and long-term loans. Financial derivatives, trade credits or other liabilities which may result from allocating transactions to an accounting period other than that of the payment date in the national accounts are not included.
Unlike the debt level as defined in the national government's financial statistics, the Maastricht debt level also includes (alongside coins in circulation) "imputed" borrowing. Examples include government initiated transactions that are attributable to the government sector but are financed via public enterprises instead of the core budget, and investment expenditure by public-private partnerships provided that certain project risks are borne by the government. Securitisation transactions where the government transfers only part of economic ownership or which are based on future tax or social security contributions are also included in Maastricht debt.
In table 1, general government Maastricht debt (central, state and local government and social security funds) is recorded as a consolidated position – ie after adjustment for debt between the different levels of government.
The Maastricht debt level is a gross figure. It therefore differs from the government's net financial position in that liabilities are not netted against the government's financial claims or financial assets (except for consolidation within general government). This is the main reason for differences between the Maastricht deficit and the change in the Maastricht debt level. Tables 3A to 3E in the Maastricht returns contain reconciliation accounts which match the deficit with the change in the debt level both for consolidated general government (3A) and for the individual levels of government (3B to 3E). As well as transactions in government financial assets, changes in other liabilities which are not included in the components of the Maastricht debt level can also give rise to differences. Additional adjustments are needed when matching the Maastricht deficit to changes in the Maastricht debt level, as the debt level is shown in nominal terms and before capitalised interest (which is included in the deficit). Moreover, changes in the sector classification of certain public entities, for example, may cause changes in the debt level which are not reflected in the deficit.
While table 1 records consolidated general government debt, the debt levels shown in tables 3B to 3E include liabilities to other levels of government. If holdings of other government subsectors' debt, which are also recorded here, are subtracted, this gives the contribution of the individual level of government to the consolidated Maastricht debt level.
After it has validated the data, Eurostat publishes the full Maastricht returns tables.Pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2009, member states must also publish a description of the sources and methods used to compile the data. The sources and methods used by all member states are available on Eurostat's website.