European Commission Economic Sentiment Indicator, November 2023: The European Commission (EC) draws from a range of surveys to construct confidence indicators for five sectors of the economy and then uses these to calculate up its Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) which is converted to an index based on the long-run average.

The November* reading showed a modest uptick in both the EU and the Euro-zone but it remains well below the long-run average, a position it has been in since the middle of 2022. The improvement came from an increase in confidence among consumers and construction with the industry, services and retail trade sectors broadly unchanged.

There was a marginal (but not significantly different from unchanged) fall in industry confidence for the 4th month in a row. Respondents’ assessments of the current level of order books continued the downward trend which began in May 2022 but their expectations for output over the coming 3 months and their appraisals of stocks of finished products were virtually unchanged. There are two other questions which are not included in the calculation of confidence for the industry sector – output over the previous 3 months was reported to have improved but the assessment of export order books worsened.

Among the larger EU economies, there was a significant improvement in the ESI for the Netherlands, France and Poland while Spain and, to a lesser extent, Germany and Italy saw a fall compared to the previous survey.

As mentioned earlier, the ESI is calculated against the long-run average, so we can look at the position of the individual countries against their own historical situation which is the best way to compare between countries. In the latest reading, most countries still have an ESI below 100 with only 5 being above 100 in this survey – they are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Romania, with Spain and Malta having dropped below their base level this month. The EU candidate countries also participate in this survey and Albania, Montenegro and Serbia also have an ESI reading above their long-run average.

  • Note that although dated November, the data collection period was from 1st to 22nd of that month, so the trends really refer to October and the 3-month periods around this month.

You can download the EC report and statistical annex from their web-site at or you can request it from MTA.

European Commission Investment Survey, November 2023: Published as part of the European Commission’s ESI report, the latest edition of their biannual investment survey gives us the 3rd (of 4) look at the expectations for 2023 and the first assessment of the prospects for 2024.

For both the EU and Euro-zone, there has been a significant downgrading of expectations for this year although the balance remains positive – as well as being below the Spring 2023 survey, it is also lower than a year ago when we got the first view of the likely trend for 2023. While this general trend holds for the major European economies, there are a couple of exceptions among the smaller countries; in Finland, the latest outlook for 2023 is an improvement on both of the two previous surveys but in Austria, while the pattern matches that of the EU/Euro-zone, the latest balance (“up” minus “down”) is significantly negative suggesting a fall in investment levels compared to 2022 – Poland is similar but the negative reading is not as dramatic as in Austria.

For 2024, the overall outlook for the EU and the Euro-zone is similar to the latest view of 2023, with a modest but significantly positive balance regarding investment intentions; however, at the country level, there are some noticeably divergent views. In Czechia, France and Italy, the balance for 2024 is a little stronger than that for 2023 and in Belgium it is significantly so; on the other hand, expectations in Finland, Hungary and Spain are sharply lower (with Hungary having a negative balance in contrast to the mildly positive ones in the other two countries).

You can access the data on the investment survey through the same route as the ESI reported above (it is all part of the same report) but if you would like our chart summaries of the survey, please contact Geoff Noon at MTA (email: [email protected]).

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