To achieve the objectives set by the Treaty on European Union, and more specifically Economic and Monetary Union, we need high-quality statistical instruments which provide the Community institutions, governments and economic and social operators with a set of harmonised and reliable statistics on which to base their decisions.
The new European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 95) is a major improvement on the previous version, which dates from 1979. Progress has been achieved in the harmonisation of methodology and in the precision and accuracy of the concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules which have to be applied in order to arrive at a consistent, reliable and comparable quantitative description of the economies of the Member States.
The new system will provide its users with a more comprehensive and more detailed knowledge of the economic and financial structures of the Member States and their regions.
ESA 95 is the fruit of several years work. It draws on the experience acquired by the European statistical system during its work on harmonising gross national product (GNP). The European Commission is deeply grateful to the specialists from the National Statistical Institutes for the perseverance and the expertise with which they helped Eurostat to accomplish this task.
The 1995 ESA is broadly consistent with the System of National Accounts of the United Nations (1993 SNA) as regards the definitions, accounting rules and classifications. It nevertheless incorporates certain differences, particularly in its presentation, which is more in line with its use within the European Union. This specific use in fact requires greater accuracy in the definitions and the accounting rules.
To ensure that the methodological provisions set out in this volume are strictly applied, the Council of the European Union has decided, following a proposal from the Commission, to give it a solid legal basis. ESA 95 was thus adopted in the form of a Council Regulation dated 25 June 1996.
The results of this joint effort by the European statistical system will be an essential tool for formulating and implementing the entire range of European Community policies, whether economic, agricultural, regional, social, commercial or environmental.
ESA 95 will also be a crucial aid to the training of those concerned with running, understanding and analysing the European economy.
Similar efforts will be made to ensure that the data compiled at European Union level are disseminated in the form and with the frequency required by their users.
In this way the Commission hopes to give all those engaged in building Europe - institutions, businesses and members of the public alike - the means to base their decisions on a genuine understanding of the issues involved.