- Belgium's inflation rate based on the European harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) was running at 9.5% in February compared to 8.5% in January. This sharp increase is partly due to the extension of the sales until mid-February last year. This effect will therefore disappear next month.
- Core inflation (inflation without energy and unprocessed food) stood at 3.8% in February compared to 2.6% in January.
- The inflation rate based on the consumer price index (CPI) for February stood at 8.0% compared to 7.6% in January. The difference in inflation between the CPI and the HICP is also a result of the extended sales season in February last year.
- The sub-indices with the largest upward effect on inflation were electricity, gas, domestic heating oil, motor fuels and clothing.
- The sub-indices having the biggest negative impact on inflation this month are housing rent, meat, restaurants and cafés, telecommunication, nursing in hospital, pharmaceutical products, furniture, repair and maintenance of personal transport equipment and bread and cereals.
- The harmonised index of consumer prices of February for the EU Member States will be published by Eurostat on 17 March.
Inflation based on the European harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) was running at 9.5% in February compared to 8.5% in January. The inflation rate based on the harmonised index of consumer prices at constant tax rates (HICP-CT) was running at 9.6% in February, compared to 8.1% in January. The difference in inflation between the HICP and the HICP-CT is largely due to the changes in excise duties on tobacco and the temporary VAT reduction in the ‘horeca’ sector. These price changes are not taken into account in the HICP-CT.
Core inflation, which does not take into account changes in the prices of energy products and unprocessed food, was running at 3.8% in February, compared to 2.6% in January and 2.4% in December. Inflation without energy has gone up to 3.7% in February compared to 2.6% in January and 2.3% in December.
The sharp increase in inflation in recent months is due to energy products. Energy has a contribution to inflation of 6.1%.
Electricity is now 72.8% more expensive than a year ago. Natural gas is 138.3% more expensive on an annual basis. The price of domestic heating oil has risen by 58.9% compared to last year.
Inflation and effect on inflation for the 12 main groups
Based on the breakdown into 12 main groups, the highest inflation rate in February was measured for "housing, water, energy" (34.3%). The lowest inflation rate is recorded for the group "communication" (0.1%).
The main group with the largest upward effect on inflation in February was “Housing, water, energy” with an effect on inflation of 4.9 percentage points. The largest downward effect was measured for ‘Food and non-alcoholic beverages’ with -1.2 percentage points.
|Product group||Weight (‰)||Inflation on annual basis (%)||Effect on inflation (percentage point)|
|1||Food and non-alcoholic beverages||168.6||1.4||2.5||4.1||4.1||-1.2||-1.3||-1.2|
|2||Alcoholic beverages and tobacco||53.5||7.0||7.7||4.6||4.8||0.0||0.0||-0.3|
|3||Clothing and footwear||58.8||0.7||0.0||12.2||12.2||-0.3||-0.6||0.1|
|4||Housing, water and energy||171.8||23.5||34.5||34.3||34.3||3.5||5.1||4.9|
|5||Interior decoration and household appliances||83.6||2.2||2.0||3.1||3.1||-0.4||-0.6||-0.6|
|9||Recreation and culture||82.9||2.5||2.7||3.0||3.0||-0.4||-0.5||-0.6|
|11||Hotels, cafés and restaurants||67.3||4.0||3.7||4.4||4.4||-0.2||-0.3||-0.4|
|12||Various goods and services||84.0||2.1||2.9||3.0||2.9||-0.4||-0.5||-0.6|
Inflation according to specific aggregates
The overall HICP can be broken down into five specific aggregates which together form the total expenditure.
- Inflation for energy products decreased compared to the previous month. It was running at 65.8% in February compared to 67.0% in January and 46.8% in December. Prices increased on average by 2.3% compared to the previous month. The average inflation rate of this aggregate for the last twelve months is 34.4%.
- Inflation of processed food rose from 4.2% in January to 4.5% in February.
- Inflation for unprocessed food (fruit, vegetables, meat and fish) amounts to 3.2% in February compared to 1.8% in January and 0.6% in December. Prices increased on average by 2.4% compared to January. The average inflation rate of this aggregate for the last twelve months is -1.6%.
- The inflation rate for non-energy industrial goods was 4.8% in February, an increase compared to January when the inflation rate for this aggregate was 1.3%. The increase in inflation is almost entirely due to the sales season, which last year also lasted until mid-February. Compared to the previous month, prices rose by an average of 5.7%, largely as a result of the sales last month.
- For services (including rent), inflation remains stable. It was running at 2.8% in February and January compared to 2.3% in December. The average inflation rate of this aggregate for the last twelve months is 1.9%.
Core inflation (inflation without energy and unprocessed food) was running at 3.8% in February, an increase compared to 2.6% in January. Average core inflation over the last 12 months amounts to 1.8%. Prices of this subaggregate increased by 2.1% compared to the previous month.
Inflation according to specific aggregates
|Specific aggregates||Weight (‰)||Inflation on annual basis (%)||12-month average (%)||Monthly change|
|Fuels and energy sources||107.5||46.8||67.0||65.8||34.4||2.3|
|Processed food products||178.0||3.2||4.2||4.5||2.2||0.5|
|Non-energy industrial goods||271.6||2.1||1.3||4.8||1.3||5.7|
|HICP without energy and unprocessed food (core inflation)||848.5||2.4||2.6||3.8||1.8||2.1|
Effect of sub-indices on inflation
The largest upward effect on inflation was caused by electricity with an impact of 2.19 percentage points. Gas provided an upward effect of 2.11 percentage points. Domestic heating oil has an impact of 0.59 percentage points. Motor fuels provided a positive impact of 0.52 percentage points. The impact on inflation of clothing is 0.13 percentage points.
Sub-indices with the largest upward effect on inflation
|Sub-index||Weight (‰)||Effect on inflation (percentage point)|
|04.5.3||Domestic heating oil||11.7||0.55|
The largest downward effect on inflation came from housing rent with an impact of -0.60 percentage points. The impact of meat on inflation was -0.33 percentage points. Restaurants and cafés and telecommunication both had an effect of -0.32 percentage points. Nursing in hospitals had a negative impact of -0.29 percentage points. Pharmaceutical products had a negative impact of -0.17 percentage points. Finally, furniture, repair and maintenance of personal transport equipment and bread and cereals each have an impact of -0.16 percentage points on inflation.
Sub-indices with the largest downward effect on inflation
|Sub-index||Weight (‰)||Effect on inflation (percentage point)|
|11.1.1||Restaurants and cafés||43.8||-0.34|
|06.3.0||Nursing in hospital||58.2||-0.26|
|07.2.3||Maintenance and repair of personal transport equipment|
|01.1.1||Bread and cereals|
Comparison with neighbouring countries
Since the final HICP of the neighbouring countries will not be published until later, comparisons can only be made based on the first HICP flash estimate for February. This inflation amounted to 9.5% in February in Belgium, up from the 8.5% registered in January. The Netherlands registered an inflation rate of 7.2% in February. This is a decrease compared to 7.6% in January. In France, inflation was 4.1% in February, up from 3.3% in January. In February, inflation in Germany was 5.5%, up from 5.1% in January.
Since the HICP at constant tax rates for February are not yet published by Eurostat, January is the most recent month to use as a basis for comparison. Belgium's inflation rate based on the HICP-CT stood at 8.2% in January, up from a rate of 5.9% in December. In January, this inflation in Germany amounted to 5.0%, an increase compared to an inflation rate of 3.8% in December. Inflation in France was running at 3.3% in January, stable compared to December. In the Netherlands, inflation rose to 8.8% in January, while in December it was 6.3%.
 In addition to the national consumer price index (CPI), Statbel also calculates a European harmonised consumer price index (Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, HICP). The HICP is used to compare inflation rates in the EU Member States. To this end, the applied expenditure approach and methods have been coordinated as much as possible and laid down in European regulations. The results of the CPI and HICP are not the same. This is mainly due to a different weighting and composition of the basket of goods and services on which these indices are based.
The HICP is also used by the European Central Bank in its monetary policy. Additionally, the HICP is used to determine to what extent a Member State meets the inflation criteria set in the Treaty on European Union.
Differences between the HICP and the current CPI are:
- The weighting of the basket of goods and services in the HICP is mainly based on the national accounts. At lower detailed levels the Household Budget Survey is used. The CPI mostly uses the Household Budget Survey at all levels.
- The reference population of the HICP consists of private households (including tourists in Belgium) and institutional households (e.g. retirement homes and nursing homes). In the CPI, this population currently consists of private households with a reference person under a maximum age.
- The HICP uses the concept of domestic expenditure: expenditure in Belgium by the reference population. The CPI uses the concept of national expenditure: expenditure by the reference population irrespective of the location.
- Seasonal adjustment is not applied in the HICP, but is applied in the CPI to travels abroad and stays in holiday villages.
- Sales periods have been neutralised in the CPI , but are included in the same month in the HICP.
- Current prices for domestic heating oil are used in the HICP calculation. A weighted 12-month average is applied in the CPI calculation.
 The HICP-CT is calculated in the same way as the regular HICP, but the prices in this index are calculated based on constant tax rates. This index therefore reflects the theoretically potential effect of changes in indirect tax rates (such as VAT or excise duties) on measured inflation. However, this is a theoretical effect, since it presupposes that tax changes are immediately and entirely reflected in prices paid by consumers.
 The contribution to inflation of a specific product group shows how much of the change in the total expenditure is due to the price variation of this product group.
 Inflation on annual basis measures the price changes between the current month and the same month of the year before. A 12-month average compares the average HICP of the last 12 months with the average of the previous 12 months. A monthly change compares the price levels of the last two months.
 The effect on inflation shows the changes on the inflation rate by including the sub-index in the HICP. The effect not only takes the weight of the sub-index into account, but it also takes into account whether the sub-index inflation is higher or lower than that of the total expenditure (overall HICP).