German Maastricht debt level for 2013 revised to €2.16 trillion or 76.9% of GDP

The 2014 autumn notification under the European budgetary surveillance procedure marked the first time in which Germany's general government debt was calculated on the basis of the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010). The new figures show that the country's debt level as defined in the Maastricht Treaty amounted to a revised €2.159 trillion at the end of 2013, which is €12 billion higher than the level reported in the 2014 spring notification. However, since the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) reported by the Federal Statistical Office on 14 August 2014 is now likewise significantly higher on account of revisions, the debt-to-GDP ratio has shrunk by a total of 1.6 percentage points to 76.9%. 

One of the main reasons behind the upward revision of the absolute debt level was the change in the rules set out in the previous standards (ESA 95) defining the general government sector. On balance, the new rules tighten the requirements which public corporations need to meet in order to count as market producers and hence be classified outside the general government sector. The stricter rules requiring public corporations to demonstrate a cost coverage rate of at least 50% (a requirement that was already in place hitherto) have now been augmented by a number of additional qualitative criteria. These include assessing how much of a public corporation's output is sold to non-government entities, and how far it competes with private producers and, in adjusting its supply, it actually intends to generate long-term profits. Moreover, public sector holding corporations are classified to the general government sector provided they do not exercise independent control over their subsidiaries but act merely as a representative of a government shareholder. Rules dealing explicitly with government-owned "bad banks" have also been incorporated into the pan-European calculation standards, but they did not affect Germany because public sector resolution agencies had already been covered by the previous standards. 

The transition to ESA 2010 and the resulting reclassification of public corporations to the general government sector has boosted Germany's debt level by just over €7 billion. An additional upward revision can largely be explained by the Federal Statistical Office's regular review of sector classifications, which saw the tighter new requirements for the necessary cost coverage rate being applied for the first time. This suggests that some of the increase may be attributable to the revised ESA calculation standards. 

Under the European budgetary surveillance procedure, European Union member states are required to submit data on their general government deficit and debt level to the European Commission twice a year (prior to 1 April and 1 October). For this purpose, the Federal Statistical Office calculates the Maastricht deficit, while the Bundesbank calculates the Maastricht debt level. The 2014 autumn notification was the first time in which all the member states of the European Union based their reported data on the new ESA 2010 standards. The outcome will be outlined in greater detail in a Eurostat press release on deficits and debt levels, which will be issued on 21 October 2014.

2014 autumn notification:       
Debt level (€ billion)1,5931,6601,7782,0672,0962,1742,159
as a percentage of GDP63.564.972.480.377.679.076.9
2014 spring notification:       
Debt level (€ billion)1,5841,6531,7712,0592,0882,1612,147
as a percentage of GDP65.266.874.682.580.081.078.4