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Definition: European system of accounts (ESA)

National accounts

The European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA) is an internationally compatible accounting framework for a systematic and detailed description of a total economy (that is a region, country or group of countries), its components and its relations with other total economies.

The ESA is fully consistent with the world-wide guidelines on national accounting, namely the System of National Accounts (SNA).

The ESA framework consists of two main sets of tables:

- Sector accounts: provide, by institutional sector, a systematic description of the different stages of the economic process: production, generation of income, distribution of income, redistribution of income, use of income and financial and non-financial accumulation. The sector accounts also include balance sheets to describe the stocks of assets, liabilities and net worth at the beginning and the end of the accounting period.

- Input-output framework and the accounts by industry: describe in more detail the production process (cost structure, income generated and employment) and the flows of goods and services (output, imports, exports, final consumption, intermediate consumption and capital formation by product group).

The ESA encompasses concepts of population and employment. These concepts are relevant for both the sector accounts and the input-output framework. The ESA is not restricted to annual national accounting, but applies also to quarterly accounts and regional accounts.
Eurostat, "European System of Accounts - ESA 1995", Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 1996