The economic forecasts concentrate on the EU, its individual member states, and the euro area but also include outlooks for some of the world's other major economies, and countries that are candidates for EU membership.

The forecasts extend over a time horizon of at least two years and cover about 180 variables. The forecasts are not based on a centralised econometric model, but are analyses made by experts at the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, using models and field knowledge. Consistency is ensured by a number of cross-country and cross-variable checks. Forecasts for the EU and the euro area are created by aggregating the data of the individual member states.

Forecasts are published three times a year in sync with the EU's annual cycle of economic surveillance procedures, known as the European Semester. Prior to the adoption of these procedures in the autumn of 2012, two fully-fledged forecasts and two interim forecasts were published each year.