EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

European Commission's business and consumer surveys

Phase: Anticipation
  • Provision of labour market information
Zuletzt geändert: 03 August, 2021
Ursprünglicher Name:

European Commission's business and consumer surveys

Englischer Name:

European Commission's business and consumer surveys


The European Commission's business and consumer surveys were previously known in Malta as the Monthly Surveys of Employers. Surveys are conducted monthly among employers in the following areas: manufacturing industry, construction, retail trade, services and financial services. The sample sizes for the different cohorts are as follows: 350 in each of the manufacturing, investment and retail sectors; 610 in the services sector; and 210 in the construction sector. Additional questions are asked every quarter in the surveys in manufacturing, construction, services, and financial services. Also, an investment survey of the manufacturing sector is carried out biannually. 

Main characteristics

These surveys are commissioned by the European Commission and contain questions on a wide range of variables that are useful to monitor cyclical developments in various economic sectors across all the EU Member States. While each survey has its specific questions, all surveys deal with business activity in the previous and the following three months. Questions about the firm's future employment prospects can be found across all surveys. Almost all the questions in the surveys are qualitative.

Salient aspects of these surveys are regularly reported by the Central Bank of Malta (CBM) in its Quarterly Reviews. Whereas in the past the CBM used to produce its surveys, in 2009 it decided to start using data derived from the European Commission's business surveys.


  • European funds

Involved actors

Employer or employee organisations
Malta Chamber of Commerce which as the EC local partner institute was commissioned to conduct these surveys up to 2021
Funded and organised by the European Commission. Regularly quoted in publications issued by the Central Bank of Malta.


According to the European Commission, these surveys 'provide essential information for economic surveillance, short-term forecasting and economic research. Moreover, they are used to detect turning points in the economic cycle. These surveys are therefore a key complement to official statistics, which are often available after long delays' (European Commission, March 2016). Further evidence of the effectiveness of these surveys is the fact that they feature regularly in the reports issued by the Central Bank of Malta. Such surveys are also quoted in the local press, in articles dealing with the performance of the Maltese economy.


At a macro level, the data gathered through these surveys give a general picture which is taken into account for the country's economic policy forecasts. The identification of gaps and skills in the labour market also provides well–informed updates of needs and demands in the labour market. This may subsequently facilitate the creation of training and education courses for the unemployed and for those in employment who are willing to upgrade their skills or are seeking new jobs. In fact, during the formulation of the National Vocational Education and Training Policy (MCAST, 2015), the monthly surveys as quoted by the CBM were viewed as a means to anticipate labour needs. The CBM highlighted the usefulness of these surveys and referred to them as a timely source of information on recent economic developments both locally and in the EU, the CBM added that these surveys are regularly used in conjunctural analysis (e.g. Quarterly Review) and other research purposes. 


Policymakers, educators, and employers would value forecasts of employment needs spanning more than three months as they would be more helpful to plan for future human resources needs. Besides, more specific information about skills requirements would also be beneficial in the context of changes in the economy.

Those commissioned with carrying out these surveys point out that the objective of these surveys is to gauge perceptions and expectations of operators in their respective sectors. They also added that these surveys are not meant to substitute official data on the performance of the various sectors. Given the lack of depth of these surveys, one should, therefore, use a cautionary approach when utilising them to formulate new policies.


The Central Bank of Malta’s first Quarterly Review of 2020 made extensive use of these surveys in its comprehensive report analysing the state of the Maltese macroeconomic trends vis-à-vis those of its European counterparts. Rarely does the CBM issue a quarterly report that does not refer to the said surveys.
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