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  European Commission > Regional Policy > Urban

There is a growing demand for an assessment of the quality of life in European cities. The Policy Context for Urban Audit stems from the Commission Communication `Towards an urban agenda in the European Union' (1997), the subsequent discussions, and the publication of the`Sustainable Urban Development : an EU framework for action' (1998) which have identified the need for more information about towns and cities in the EU. The Urban Audit is also part of the process of improving Urban Statistics in the EU.  Responsibility for the conception and management of the Urban Audit rests with the Directorate General for Regional Policy in collaboration with EUROSTAT.  The Commission Services may be contacted for  further information. The pilot phase of the Urban Audit was undertaken by ERECO, a team of consultants with correspondents for all member states.

The European Commission launched the Urban Audit in June 1997 by, in particular publishing the Terms of Reference for the Pilot Phase. This pilot phase which began in May 1998 was undertaken within the aegis of Article 10 of the ERDF Regulation which enables the support by the European Commission of innovative measures. Directorate General Regional for  Policy and EUROSTAT are responsible for managing the Urban Audit. Other Directorates of the European Commission have advised on the choice of information to be included in the Urban Audit. 

The overall purpose of the Urban Audit is to enable an assessment of the state of individual EU 
cities and to provide access to comparative information from other EU cities. It is intended that 
the process will facilitate the exchange of information amongst cities. 

Fifty eight cities were invited by the European Commission to participate in the Urban Audit during the pilot phase. This includes several cities in each EU member state. Paris and London have not been included because of their size. 

The Indicators of the Urban Audit cover 5 fields : socio-economic aspects, participation in civic 
life, education and training, environment and culture and leisure. A comparison of the indicator scores will allow cities to judge their progress and to identify any specific difficulties.

During the Urban Audit pilot phase a methodology has been developed for collecting information 
to inform these indicators. All available information sources at national, regional and local levels 
have been investigated and where appropriate used. Account has been taken of the variety of data sources and definitions used in different contexts so that useful comparisons can be made.  The method of approach is is decided in the Urban Audit Manual

The indicator scores have been calculated at the city level and, for 27 of the 58 cities at the Wider Territorial Unit or Conurbation level. In these 27 cases the cities form part of a wider agglomeration and, indicator scores have, where possible, been calculated at this level so that, if appropriate, cross-city comparisons may use the score for the wider area rather than for the city administrative level.

Information to inform the indicators has also been compiled at the national level.

For a limited number of indicators, mainly those concerning socio-economic aspects, scores have been calculated for sub-divisions of the cities. The main purpose of the sub-city analysis is to estimate the apparent level of disparities in conditions between parts of the Urban Audit cities.

The Urban Audit is only one amongst many pieces of work that have compared aspects of the quality of life across cities or considered these in depth within particular cities. As part of the Urban Audit pilot phase a review was made of this parallel work.There is a growing demand for an assessment of the quality of life in European cities. 

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