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Common classification of territorial units for statistical purposes (NUTS)

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Common classification of territorial units for statistical purposes (NUTS)

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 establishing a common classification of territorial units for statistics (NUTS)

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

  • It sets out the rules for the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), a system used mainly to assess levels of eligibility for European Union (EU) Structural Funds and gives NUTS legal status.
  • It also contains rules for future amendments to the classification. This is to ensure that data refer to the same regional unit for a certain period of time. This is important especially for statistical time series.

KEY POINTS

The NUTS hierarchy

For each EU country, there is a 3-level hierarchy of regional subdivisions which are based on minimum and maximum population thresholds, as shown below.

  • NUTS 1: major socioeconomic regions, e.g. German Länder, Belgian regions, Polish regions, Romanian macroregions.
  • NUTS 2: basic regions for the application of regional policies, e.g. Belgian provinces, Danish regions, Czech regions (oblasti).
  • NUTS 3: small regions for specific diagnoses, e.g. Bulgarian provinces (oblasti), Italian provinces.

The third level is a subdivision of the second level, the second level of the first level and the first level of the countries. The NUTS does not cover the local (municipality) level. Where the population of an EU country as a whole is below the minimum threshold for a given NUTS level, the country itself constitutes a NUTS territorial unit of that level.

Classification criteria

The existing administrative units in the EU countries have to be taken into account in the NUTS. The NUTS level to which an existing administrative level corresponds is determined on the basis of the average population size of its administrative units as follows:

Level

Minimum population

Maximum population

NUTS 1

3 million

7 million

NUTS 2

800,000

3 million

NUTS 3

150,000

800,000

If, for a given level in the classification, there is no existing administrative level of an adequate size in an EU country, that level is to be established by aggregating an adequate number of smaller neighbouring administrative units. The resulting aggregated units form a ‘non-administrative level’ at which each non-administrative unit has to respect the population thresholds above.

The current NUTS classification, valid from 1 January 2015, lists 98 regions at NUTS 1 level, 276 regions at NUTS 2 level and 1,342 regions at NUTS 3 level. Regulation (EU) No 1319/2013 provides the NUTS levels 1, 2 and 3 breakdown effective as of 1 January 2015.

FROM WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?

It has applied since 11 July 2003.

BACKGROUND

  • Since the 1970s, mainly to assess levels of eligibility for EU Structural Funds on the basis of objective, quantitative criteria, the EU has developed a system called NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) that divides its territory geographically for the computation of regional statistics.
  • All EU countries have their own systems of government and administrative structure, some more centralised than others. They also vary enormously in terms of population, surface area and levels of development. The NUTS has been developed by Eurostat specifically with this diversity of circumstances in mind.
  • For more information, see:

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 on the establishment of a common classification of territorial units for statistics (NUTS) (OJ L 154, 21.6.2003, pp. 1-41)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Commission Regulation (EC) No 11/2008 of 8 January 2008 implementing Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a common classification of territorial units for statistics (NUTS) on the transmission of the time series for the new regional breakdown (OJ L 5, 9.1.2008, pp. 13-14)

Regulation (EU) No 99/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2013 on the European statistical programme 2013-17 (OJ L 39, 9.2.2013, pp. 12-29)

See consolidated version.

last update 04.11.2016

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