Maastricht deficit and debt level

Sound public finances are the cornerstone of a stability-oriented monetary union. The EU Member States therefore set out fiscal rules in the Maastricht Treaty and subsequently augmented them with the Stability and Growth Pact. The Maastricht Treaty specifies reference values for the general government sector of the various EU Member States: 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the government deficit and 60% of GDP for government debt (the Maastricht criteria).

The general government fiscal balance equates to the difference between the revenue and expenditure of the government sector as a whole. If expenditure in a given period exceeds revenue, the result is a negative balance (deficit). Correspondingly, if income exceeds expenditure, this produces a positive balance (surplus).

Government debt as defined in the Maastricht Treaty is a gross figure. This means that no government assets are offset when calculating the debt level.

Under the excessive deficit procedure, EU Member States are obliged to submit data on the general government deficit and debt level to the European Commission (Maastricht notification) twice a year (end of March and end of September). These data are checked and published by Eurostat. In Germany, the data for past years to be reported for the general government sector are compiled by the Federal Statistical Office (deficit) and the Bundesbank (debt). In addition, the Federal Ministry of Finance provides estimates for the current year. The Federal Statistical Office is responsible for transmitting the data to the European Commission.

The methodological principles as well as the precise compilation of Maastricht debt in Germany are described in more detail in a Bundesbank Monthly Report article.