Globalised businesses

Globalisation is not a new phenomenon, but this subject area has gained a lot of public interest as a result of:

  • growing international competition within increasingly globalised markets;
  • the lowering of customs duties and tariffs, and;
  • the internationalisation of financial transfer options.

The statistical capture of aspects relating to the globalisation phenomenon is not always straightforward, as the underlying activities are trans-national or multinational, and statistics are usually bound to national boundaries or to the aggregation of national data (in the European Statistical System, or in the OECD, for example).

The globalisation of the world economy therefore creates new needs for statistics and, at the same time, it changes the conditions for the production of business statistics. Activities of multinational enterprise groups, the outsourcing of activities, foreign direct investment, and other forms of foreign engagement are key elements in this regard.

While some existing statistics can already be used to analyse different aspects of globalisation, Eurostat is currently implementing a programme (MEETS) to modernise business and trade statistics to make sure that official statistics are capable of reflecting all these phenomena in the changing EU economy. Actions foreseen under this programme will include:

  • a review of priorities;
  • the development of key characteristics and indicators in fields like globalisation;
  • work on harmonised definitions;
  • pilot projects to test the feasibility of new indicators, and;
  • supporting the Member States to develop statistics on globalisation in a harmonised way.

In addition, a new development project on international sourcing has been launched, where the objective is to provide policy-makers with relevant statistical information on the motivations, extent and consequences of international sourcing (off-shoring, near-shoring, delocalisation, relocalisation, outsourcing or insourcing).

A business registers Regulation entered into force in the spring of 2008. It makes the recording of enterprise groups compulsory, as well as the exchange of data on multinational enterprises (MNEs) and their constituent units within the European Statistical System (for statistical purposes only). The exchange of data implies the creation of a Community register of MNEs, the so-called EuroGroups register (EGR).


Existing statistical domains within structural business statistics (SBS) which could be used to analyse globalisation include:

  • statistics on the structure and activity of foreign affiliates which show the impact of foreign-controlled enterprises on the European economy;
  • business services statistics, where information on the location of clients shows the relative size of exports of business services to residents in other Member States or outside of the EU;
  • a development project on the demand for services which provides information on trans-border purchases and deliveries of services.

Aside from SBS, information from balance of payments (BoP) statistics can be used to analyse different economic transactions between residents and non-residents of a country or of a geographical region.

Data on international trade in services, a component of the BoP current account, and data on foreign direct investment, a component of the BoP financial account, can also be used to monitor the external commercial performance of different economies. Outward FATS measure the commercial presence through affiliates in foreign markets.