City statistics (urb)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)
National metadata

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

E4: Regional statistics and geographical information

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 25/05/2022
2.2. Metadata last posted 25/05/2022
2.3. Metadata last update 25/05/2022

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Data on European cities were collected in the Urban Audit and in the Large City Audit project. The projects' ultimate goal is to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of urban life: it supports the exchange of experience among European cities; it helps to identify best practices; it facilitates benchmarking at the European level and provides information on the dynamics within the cities and with their surroundings.

At the city level, the Urban Audit contains more than 130 variables and more than 50 indicators. These indicators are derived from the variables collected by the European Statistical System.

The data is published in 20 tables within 2 main groups, plus a perception survey table:

Cities and greater cities (urb_cgc)

Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - cities and greater cities (urb_cpop1)
Population structure - cities and greater cities (urb_cpopstr)
Population by citizenship and country of birth - cities and greater cities (urb_cpopcb)
Fertility and mortality - cities and greater cities (urb_cfermor)

Living conditions - cities and greater cities (urb_clivcon)

Education - cities and greater cities (urb_ceduc)

Culture and tourism - cities and greater cities (urb_ctour)
Labour market - cities and greater cities (urb_clma)
Economy and finance - cities and greater cities (urb_cecfi)
Transport - cities and greater cities (urb_ctran)
Environment - cities and greater cities (urb_cenv)

Functional Urban Area (urb_luz)

Population on 1 January by age groups and sex - Functional Urban Area (urb_lpop1)
Population structure - Functional Urban Area (urb_lpopstr)
Population by citizenship and country of birth - Functional Urban Area (urb_lpopcb)
Fertility and mortality - Functional Urban Area (urb_lfermor)
Living conditions - Functional Urban Area (urb_llivcon)
Education - Functional Urban Area (urb_leduc)
Labour market - Functional Urban Area (urb_llma)
Transport - Functional Urban Area (urb_ltran)
Environment - Functional Urban Area (urb_lenv)

Perception survey results (urb_percep)

Data has been collected on two spatial levels in the Urban Audit:

  • The City (C) according to the administrative definition, as the basic level,
  • The Functional Urban Area (FUA) being an approximation of the functional urban zone centered around the city
3.2. Classification system

Specific classification and coding systems have been developed for the spatial units and for the variables and indicators.


  • Classification system for variables:

A variable is the data collected by the national statistical offices of the countries. The variable data serves as the raw data for the calculation of the indicators. The variables serve as either the numerator or denominator of the indicator equation, depending on how this has been defined. Variables are labeled as follows:

Variable DE1040V - "Population on the 1st of January, 0-4 years, total"


Domain code




V (for variable)



  • Classification system for indicators:

Indicators are labeled in a similar way to variables, except that the names end with an I to identify them as indicators:

Indicator DE1040I - "Proportion of population aged 0-4 years"


Domain code




I (for indicator)



  • Classification system for the spatial units


2-digit Country Code


3-digit city code                     

 C, F

Version numbers for City (C) or FUA (F)



Spatial Unit












3.3. Coverage - sector

The indicators and variables cover several aspects of quality of life, e.g., demography, housing, health, economic activity, labour market, income disparity, educational qualifications, environment, climate, travel patterns, tourism and cultural infrastructure.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

For most of the indicators, existing international standards have been followed as far as possible.

3.5. Statistical unit

Da is collected for cities.

The OECD and the European Commission developed a new harmonised definition of a city and its commuting zone in 2011. This new OECD-EC definition identified almost 1000 cities with an urban centre of at least 50000 inhabitants.

3.6. Statistical population

For most variables the target statistical universe is the usual residents of a geographical area (city). For the detailed description of variables see the Methodological Manual on territorial typologies.

3.7. Reference area

EU Member States, UK, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Turkey are represented in the data collection.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data are available starting with the reference year 1990.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

The unit of measurement varies from indicator to indicator; from variable to variable. In most cases the unit of measurement is included in the label.

5. Reference Period Top

Not applicable.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

All data supply of urban statistics is based on a voluntary agreement, as there is no Community legislation yet on this topic.

The legal framework for the geo-spatial definitions is the TERCET Regulation.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

There is no fixed release calendar.

Data are released as soon as they are received and validated.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

The database is updated continually, depending on the data availability of new and revised data.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

There are ad-hoc news releases. 

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Eurostat regional yearbook 2021

The Eighth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion

Urban Europe - Statistics on cities, towns and suburbs (2016)

The state of European Cities Report (2016)

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Please see the dedicated section on Eurosta's website:

10.6. Documentation on methodology


Methodological Manual on City statistics

Mehodological manual on territorial typologies

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Quality is assessed on a regular basis. The assessment is summarized in reports.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

In order to assure a high data quality, existing validation procedures have been analysed and adapted to recent standards. A complete set of validation rules have been developed.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Quality is assessed on a regular basis. The assessment is summarized in reports.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

User needs and stakeholder requirements are collected at several forums.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

User feedback is collected at several forums.

12.3. Completeness

Data availability differs from domain to domain.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Not applicable.

13.2. Sampling error

Not applicable.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not applicable.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Depends on the domain and individual variable. As a general rule, timeliness is about 9 months.

14.2. Punctuality

In some cases a time lag between the actual delivery of the data and the target date when it should have been delivered occurs. There are no legal deadlines to deliver the data.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The legal framework (Tercet Regulation) ensures the geographical comparability (definition of spatial units).

Due to the sometimes deviating definitions of variables and different data sources used the comparability of data could be limited to some extent.

15.2. Comparability - over time

From the 2011 data collection the comparability over time has improved due to the use of the new city definition.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Data collected at sub-national level is coherent with the data collected at national level to a limited extent due to the different data sources used.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Internal coherence (e.g. between spatial levels, between indicators like total, male, female population) is ensured through the application of multivariate and univariate validation controls.

16. Cost and Burden Top

The data collection is based on administrative data so the main burden is on the Statistical Institutes.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Not applicable.

17.2. Data revision - practice

In case of changes in the methodology used by the countries, data revisions might be sent to Eurostat.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Data is collected by National (or Regional) Statistical Offices, by the cities or by other national or local authorities. In most cases, data has been obtained from censuses, different administrative and statistical registers, national and local databases in the individual cities and sample basis.

In some cases, data has been obtained from a sample survey. Some variables have been estimated. Most indicators have been calculated by Eurostat. A small subset of variables are collected by other DGs and agencies (DG Regio, European Environment Agency) and are shared with Eurostat.

Variable list
18.2. Frequency of data collection

Data is collected annually, but many indicators are only available for census years.

18.3. Data collection

Data has been collected by the National Urban Audit Coordinators (NUACs), one in each country, on behalf of Eurostat. The NUACs have collected data from available sources in the national statistical office, other state agencies or ministries, from the cities concerned or from private sources. Some data has been estimated by the NUACs.

18.4. Data validation

For a complete description of the data validation see annex.

Different data checks are done before publication:

  • Type check: Data fields designed for numbers can only accept numbers.
  • Length check: Data fields contain allowed length of data, e.g. country code is 2 characters.
  • Presence check: Controls that all data fields are present.
  • Uniqueness checks: Controls that certain fields do not take duplicate values.
  • Code list check: Only defined variables and geographical codes are accepted.
  • Consistency checks: Values of related variables must be consistent.
  • Range check: Values should be within a defined range.
  • Balance check: Sum of values for subgroups should be equal to the total, e.g. male + female = total
  • Spatial level control check: Comparison of geographical aggregates at different levels, e.g. value for FUA should be higher than value for the City.
  • Time series check: Finds unusual evolution over time.

Validation rules
18.5. Data compilation

National Statistical Offices compile the data (variables).

The indicator calculation is done by Eurostat and includes:

  • Calculation of ratios - example: Demographic dependency

The list of indicators and the calculation is included in the annex.

Indicator list
18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable. No adjustments are implemented.

19. Comment Top

To facilitate understanding of the data, the flags that are used in the metadata are shown below.

Restrictions concerning the data:

B  Break in time series

C  Confidential data

D  Definition differs, see metadata

E  Estimated

F  Forecast

P  Provisional data

U  Low reliabilty


Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
List of Cities/FUAs 2022