The government deficit or reported deficit corresponds to the financing needs (B9NF) of general government. It is the balance of the general government capital account.
It is often presented in terms of points of GDP (ratio, expressed as a percentage, between the financing need and the gross domestic product).
The government deficit measures the difference between all current expenditure, non-financial investment expenditure and capital transfers of general government on the one hand, and all of its non-financial resources, on the other hand.
The Maastricht treaty, which entered into force on 1 November 1993, defined five convergence criteria that Member States must fulfil to move to the single currency, the euro. Two criteria relate to the control of public deficits : the public finance deficit must not exceed 3% of GDP for all General government and public debt must be limited to no more than 60% of GDP.
The public deficit is reported to the European Commission twice per year (end of March and end of September).