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  • Press release

Euro area monthly balance of payments: May 2021

20 July 2021

  • Current account recorded €12 billion surplus in May 2021, down from €22 billion in previous month
  • Current account surplus amounted to €310 billion (2.7% of euro area GDP) in 12 months to May 2021, up from €228 billion (2.0%) one year earlier
  • In financial account, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of non-euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €950 billion and non-residents’ net acquisitions of euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €187 billion in 12 months to May 2021

Chart 1

Euro area current account balance

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €12 billion in May 2021, a decrease of €10 billion from the previous month (Chart 1 and Table 1). Surpluses were recorded for goods (€25 billion) and services (€6 billion). These were partly offset by deficits for secondary income (€14 billion) and primary income (€5 billion).

Table 1

Current account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the current account of the euro area

In the 12 months to May 2021, the current account recorded a surplus of €310 billion (2.7% of euro area GDP), compared with a surplus of €228 billion (2.0% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to May 2020. This increase was driven by a larger surplus for goods (up from €309 billion to €375 billion) and for services (up from €39 billion to €76 billion). These developments were partly offset by a reduction in the surplus for primary income (down from €38 billion to €27 billion) and a larger deficit for secondary income (up from €158 billion to €168 billion).

Chart 2

Selected items of the euro area financial account

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: For assets, a positive (negative) number indicates net purchases (sales) of non-euro area instruments by euro area investors. For liabilities, a positive (negative) number indicates net sales (purchases) of euro area instruments by non-euro area investors.

In direct investment, euro area residents made net investments of €28 billion in non-euro area assets in the 12-month period to May 2021, following net disinvestments of €72 billion in the 12 months to May 2020 (Chart 2 and Table 2). Non-residents’ net investments in euro area assets decreased to €53 billion in the 12-month period to May 2021, down from €152 billion in the 12 months to May 2020.

In portfolio investment, net purchases of non-euro area debt securities by euro area residents increased to €427 billion in the 12-month period to May 2021, following net purchases of €407 billion in the 12 months to May 2020. Over the same period, euro area residents’ net purchases of non-euro area equity increased to €522 billion from €91 billion in the 12 months to May 2020. Non-residents made net sales of euro area debt securities amounting to €79 billion in the 12 months to May 2021, following net purchases of €131 billion in the 12 months to May 2020. Over the same period, non-residents’ net purchases of euro area equity increased to €266 billion from €212 billion in the 12 months to May 2020.

Table 2

Financial account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: Decreases in assets and liabilities are shown with a minus sign. Net financial derivatives are reported under assets. “MFIs” stands for monetary financial institutions. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the financial account of the euro area

In other investment, euro area residents recorded net disposals of non-euro area assets amounting to €16 billion in the 12 months to May 2021 (following net acquisitions of €382 billion in the 12 months to May 2020), while their net incurrence of liabilities increased to €330 billion from €196 billion.

Chart 3

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: “MFI net external assets (enhanced)” incorporates an adjustment to the MFI net external assets (as reported in the consolidated MFI balance sheet items statistics) based on information on MFI long-term liabilities held by non-residents, available in b.o.p. statistics. B.o.p. transactions refer only to transactions of non-MFI residents of the euro area. Financial transactions are shown as liabilities net of assets. “Other” includes financial derivatives and statistical discrepancies.

The monetary presentation of the balance of payments (Chart 3) shows that the net external assets (enhanced) of euro area MFIs decreased by €36 billion in the 12-month period to May 2021. This decrease was driven by euro area non-MFIs’ net outflows in portfolio investment debt and portfolio investment equity. These developments were mainly offset by the current and capital accounts surplus and, to a lesser extent, by the euro area non-MFIs’ net inflows in direct investment, other investment and other flows.

In May 2021 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased to €885.5 billion, up from €852.1 billion in the previous month (Table 3). This increase was driven by positive changes in the price of gold (€34.1 billion) and, to a lesser extent, by net acquisitions of assets (€1.4 billion), which were partly offset by negative exchange rate changes (€2.2 billion).

Table 3

Reserve assets of the euro area

(EUR billions; amounts outstanding at the end of the period, flows during the period; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: “Other reserve assets” comprises currency and deposits, securities, financial derivatives (net) and other claims. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the reserve assets of the euro area

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for April 2021. These revisions did not significantly alter the figures previously published.

Next releases:

  • Monthly balance of payments: 19 August 2021 (reference data up to the June 2021)
  • Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 4 October 2021 (reference data up to the second quarter of 2021)

For media queries, please contact Philippe Rispal, tel.: +49 69 1344 5482.

Notes

  • Current account data are always seasonally and working day-adjusted, unless otherwise indicated, whereas capital and financial account data are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted.
  • Hyperlinks in this press release lead to data that may change with subsequent releases as a result of revisions.
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