The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) gives comparable measures of inflation for the countries and country groups for which they are produced. They are economic indicators that measure the change over time of the prices of consumer goods and services acquired by households. In other words, they are a set of consumer price indices (CPI) calculated according to a harmonised approach and a single set of definitions.
In particular, the HICP provide the official measure of consumer price inflation in the euro area for the purposes of monetary policy and the assessment of inflation convergence as required under the Maastricht criteria for accession to the euro.
The HICP are available for all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. In addition to the individual country series there are three key country-group aggregate indices: the euro area, the European Union (EU), and the European Economic Area (EEA), which in addition to the EU also covers Iceland and Norway, but not Liechtenstein.
The official country-group aggregates reflect the evolution of the EA, the EU and the EEA. The HICP for new Member States is chained into the aggregate indices at the time of accession. In addition to these official aggregates, Eurostat also computes, for analytical purposes, country aggregates with stable composition over time. For example, the EU28 aggregate shows price indices covering all current 28 Member States since 1997.
The HICP for Serbia and Turkey (candidate countries) are also published. For the USA, a proxy-HICP for the all-items and main headings is available.
The national HICP is produced by National Statistical Institutes (NSIs), while the country-group aggregates are produced by Eurostat.
The data released monthly on Eurostat's free dissemination database include price indices and rates (monthly, annual and 12-month moving average changes). In addition to the headline figure 'all-items HICP', around one hundred sub-indices for different goods and services and over thirty special aggregates are made available. Once a year, with the release of the January data, the relative weights for the indices, including the special aggregates, are published for the individual countries and for the country groups.
Early estimates of the overall inflation rate for the euro area, as well as of selected components, are published monthly, usually on the last working day of the reference month, in a News Release, in the database and in a Statistics Explained article. They are called 'HICP flash estimates'.
HICP at constant tax rates (HICP-CT) follows the same computation principles as the HICP, but is based on prices at constant tax rates. The comparison with the standard HICP can show the potential impact of changes in indirect taxes (e.g. VAT and excise duties) on the overall inflation (more information).