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Economy and Finance

Fiscal governance database

This database, maintained by the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, provides detailed information about the EU Member States' fiscal governance arrangements and their evolution from 1990 to date. 

It covers three areas, namely fiscal rules, independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) and medium-term budgetary frameworks (MTBFs), and provides both qualitative and quantitative information. The database is updated annually, through replies to a questionnaire by the Member States and IFIs.

What information will you find here?

You will find detailed qualitative information and data on the main elements of domestic fiscal frameworks (i.e., numerical fiscal rules, independent fiscal institutions and medium term budgetary frameworks) as well as indices on the strength and quality of fiscal rules and MTBFs as well as an index on the scope of IFI activities, developed by the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN). Following the April 2009 ECOFIN Council conclusions, the database is updated annually. The information has been collected through surveys coordinated by DG ECFIN and channelled through the Alternates of the Economic and Financial Committee (since 2015), the Economic Policy Committee (2009 – 2014), and the EPC Working Group on the Quality of Public Finances (2006 and 2008) respectively. The questionnaires are filled in by the relevant national authorities and independent fiscal institutions in the Member States and the information is carefully processed and made publicly available by DG ECFIN.

Fiscal rules in EU Member States

DG ECFIN has compiled a dataset on domestic fiscal rules in force since 1990 across EU Member States by collecting directly this information from national authorities. The dataset covers all types of numerical fiscal rules (budget balance, debt, expenditure, and revenue rules) at all levels of government (central, regional, and local, general government, and social security). The information was first collected in a 2006 survey, with annual updates scheduled since 2008. The scope of information includes the description and definition of the fiscal rule and its coverage, its statutory base, monitoring bodies, correction mechanisms in case of deviation from the rule, as well as experience with the respect of the rule.

Numerical indicators capturing the design strength of fiscal rules

Well-designed fiscal rules would require a number of desirable features. To capture these features, DG ECFIN has constructed an index of the strength of a given fiscal rule, which reflects information on i) the legal base, ii) how binding the rule is, iii) monitoring bodies, iv) correction mechanisms, and v) resilience to shocks. Based on the fiscal rule strength index for each rule, a comprehensive time-varying fiscal rule index for each Member State is constructed. More details on the calculation of the index can be found in the index methodology file below.

The methodology used to construct the fiscal rules indicators was changed in 2015 following an in-depth review carried out by DG ECFIN. The new and improved methodology has been implemented since the 2015 vintage of the database. The 'old' methodology has been discontinued, but the historical data vintages computed according to it are still available for download. To provide a bridge between the 'old' and 'new' data series, the 2015 vintage of the database has been computed according to both methodologies.

Independent fiscal institutions

DG ECFIN has compiled a broad set of information on national independent fiscal institutions (IFIs) in the EU Member States through a comprehensive survey launched in 2006. This survey compiled information related to the main characteristics of these domestic public bodies covering their mandates and functions, the composition of their governing boards, their formal status vis-à-vis government or parliament, and their media visibility and influence on public debates on fiscal policy.

While initially covering a wide spectrum of IFIs, in recent years the database has increasingly focused on the so-called 'core IFIs', i.e. the IFIs endowed with a formal mandate derived from EU legislation, as well as a small number of 'non-core IFIs', i.e. institutions that carry-out IFI-specific tasks (analysis of fiscal policy developments, provision of macroeconomic forecasts, normative statements/recommendations in the area of fiscal policy) based on a mandate that is usually not driven by recent EU legislation.

Index on the scope of IFI tasks

As of 2015, as part of the new Fiscal Governance Database methodology, DG ECFIN introduced a Scope Index of Fiscal Institutions (SIFI) that aims to measure the breadth of tasks covered by IFIs.The SIFI index is calculated only for 'core IFIs', based on information reported by these institutions themselves. Six separate groupings of tasks constitute the SIFI index: (1) monitoring of compliance with fiscal rules; (2) macroeconomic forecasting; (3) budgetary forecasting and policy costing; (4) sustainability assessment; (5) promotion of fiscal transparency; and (6) normative recommendations on fiscal policy.

The index offers a relevant image of the mandate of various institutions but should not be taken as a full proxy of their effectiveness.

Medium-term budgetary frameworks

DG ECFIN has surveyed the existing medium-term budgetary frameworks across EU Member States via several rounds of annual questionnaires, first in 2006, with annual updates scheduled since 2008. The data covers the content of the specific national fiscal plan, its connectedness with the annual budget (including supplementary and corrective budgets) and the extent to which other institutions are scrutinising it.

Index on the quality of medium-term budgetary frameworks

Using the above-mentioned survey information, DG ECFIN has constructed an index on the quality of medium-term budgetary frameworks that is annually updated and published on DG ECFIN's website. It captures the quality of the national medium-term budgetary framework through five criteria: (i) coverage of the targets/ceilings included in the national medium-term fiscal plans; (ii) connectedness between these targets/ceilings and the annual budgets; (iii) involvement of the national parliament in the preparation of the plans; (iv) involvement of independent fiscal institutions in their preparation; and (v) their level of detail.

In light of the broad-ranging reforms to national fiscal frameworks in the last decade, the methodology used to construct the medium-term budgetary framework index has been changed in 2015 following an in-depth review carried out by DG ECFIN. The new and improved methodology has been implemented since the 2015 vintage of the database. The 'old' methodology has been discontinued, but the historical data vintages computed according to it are still available for download. To provide a bridge between the 'old' and 'new' data series, the 2015 vintage of the database has been computed according to both methodologies.