Glossary:Local administrative unit (LAU)

Short definition: The local administrative units, abbreviated as LAUs form a system for dividing up the economic territory of the European Union (EU) for the purpose of statistics at local level. They have been set up by Eurostat and they are compatible with Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS).

At local level, two levels of LAU have been defined:

  • The upper level (LAU1, formerly NUTS level 4) is defined for most, but not all, of the countries.
  • The lower level (LAU2, formerly NUTS level 5) consists of municipalities or equivalent units in the 28 EU Member States.


Longer description: Generally, a local administrative unit (LAU) is a low level administrative division of a country, ranked below a province, region, or state. Not all countries describe their locally governed areas this way, but it can be descriptively applied anywhere to refer to counties, municipalities, etc. In the European Union, LAUs are basic components of Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) regions. For each EU member country, two levels of Local Administrative Units (LAU) are defined: LAU-1 and LAU-2, which were previously called NUTS-4 and NUTS-5 respectively, until the NUTS regulation went into force in July 2003. For some countries, the LAU-1 level is not defined, and thus equivalent to the NUTS-3 level. A similar statistical system is defined for the candidate countries and members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

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