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Common classification of territorial units for statistical purposes

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Common classification of territorial units for statistical purposes

Since the 1970s, mainly to assess levels of eligibility for European Union 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.

ACT

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) (see amending acts).

SUMMARY

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. Since 2003, with the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003, NUTS has legal status and rules have been agreed 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 time series.

The NUTS hierarchy

For each EU country, there is a three-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 Member States 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 a Member State, 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.

1319/2013 provides the NUTS levels 1, 2 and 3 breakdown effective as of 1 January 2015.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

1059/2003

11.7.2003

-

OJ L 154 of 21.6.2003

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

1888/2005

26.11.2005

-

OJ L 309 of 25.11.2005

105/2007

2.3.2007

-

OJ L 39 of 10.2.2007

176/2008

6.3.2008

-

OJ L 61 of 5.3.2008

1137/2008

11.12.2008

-

OJ L 311 of 21.11.2008

31/2011

7.2.2011

-

OJ L 13 of 18.1.2011

517/2013

1.7.2013

-

OJ L 158 of 10.6.2013

1319/2013

7.1.2014 Implementation: 1.1.2015

-

OJ L 342 of 18.12.2013

868/2014

2.9.2014 Implementation: 1.1.2016

-

OJ L 241 of 13.8.2014

RELATED ACTS

Commission Regulation (EC) No 11/2008 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 (Official Journal L 5 of 9 January 2008).

1578/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 on the Community statistical programme 2008 to 2012 (Official Journal L 344 of 28 December 2007).

Last updated: 02.07.2014

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