Definition and scope

1. The debt is the total of all public financial commitments. It is the aggregate public borrowing requirement, i.e. the year-on-year difference between its incomings (tax revenue, proceeds from privatisations, etc.) and its outgoings (budget expenditure, acquisition of holdings, etc.). There is negotiable debt, i.e. contracted in the form of financial instruments that can be traded on the financial markets (government securities) and non-negotiable debt, which corresponds to deposits made by certain bodies (local and regional authorities, public establishments, etc.) into the Treasury's account and is also a government funding method.

2. In the meaning of the Maastricht Treaty, the general government debt measures total gross financial commitment of the general government except commercial credit and other payment delays. This is a gross debt, which means that the financial assets of the general government (Treasury cash deposits with the Banque de France, repos, government interests, retirement fund securities investments) are not deducted. Under the Maastricht rules, debt is measured in terms of real value instead of market value. It is consolidated, which means that debts contracted between general government administrations are eliminated, particularly deposits of local governments with the Public Treasury.

The general government sphere includes:

  • the central government, i.e. the State (general budget, special Treasury accounts, special budgets) and "various central administration bodies" (ODAC). This heading covers several hundred public and private sector establishments, including the CNRS, the CEA, the ADEME, the ANRU, state-run "Grandes Ecoles", universities and museums. The criterion used to class an establishment as part of the general government is not its legal status but the structure of its statement of revenue and expenditure (operating costs financed from commercial revenue).
  • local governments, which include agencies with limited territorial jurisdiction, such as local authorities, local public establishments, chambers of commerce, school funds and all public or quasi-public bodies financed primarily by local governments.
  • the social security funds, i.e. all mandatory social security funds (general scheme, unemployment insurance schemes, complementary retirement funds and welfare benefit funds, funds for the liberal professions and agricultural funds, special employee schemes), fund-management agencies (the ACOSS and CADES, for example) and the agencies financed by such funds (social works, public and private sector hospitals contributing to public hospital services and financed from an aggregate operating grant).

Agence France Trésor manages only the central government debt.