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Definition: Statistical Classification of Products by Activity in the European Economic Community


The Statistical Classification of Products by Activity in the European Economic Community (CPA) is the official product classification by activity of the European Union.

CPA classifies products by their physical characteristics as goods or by their intrinsic nature as services and by originating activity. Originating activities are those defined by NACE.

It is the European version of the CPC (the Central Product Classification of the United Nations), and the purposes it serves are in line with those of the CPC. Whilst the CPC is merely a recommended classification, however, the CPA is legally binding in the European Community. In addition, the specific survey classifications were and are linked to the CPA unless the CPA is itself used as a survey classification. 

Although the CPA is the European counterpart of the CPC, it differs from the latter not only in that it is more detailed but also as regards its structuring. The view at European level was that a central product classification should be structured according to the criterion of economic origin, with the framework (and thus the definition of the economic activities) being based, naturally enough, on NACE. This recourse to NACE with respect to the definitions of economic activity means that the CPA's structure corresponds at all levels to that of NACE.

Since the elements of the CPA are based on those of the CPC, links between the CPA and the HS exist in the same way as those between the CPC and the HS which have been referred to above. The same also applies as regards the Explanatory Notes to the CPA. 

National versions of the CPA are possible. 

The Central Product Classification (CPC) is the classification system used by the United Nations.