In 2011, the Commission Directorates-General for Regional and Urban Policy, Agriculture and Rural Development, Eurostat and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) together with the OECD revised the Degree of urbanisation classification (DEGURBA) and prepared a common methodology, to be used by the entire Commission as well as the OECD.
The methodology classifies Local Administrative Units (LAU or communes) based on a combination of criteria of geographical contiguity and minimum population threshold applied to 1 km2 population grid cells.
This approach, based on mapping the territory by a grid square cell of 1 km2, avoids distortions caused by using LAU varying in size and/or shape.
This Degree of urbanisation creates a three-way classification of LAU as follows:
- Cities (alternate name: densely populated areas):
At least 50% of the population lives in urban centres.
- Towns and suburbs (alternate name: intermediate density areas):
At least 50% of the population lives in urban clusters and
Less than 50% of the population lives in urban centres.
- Rural areas (alternate name: thinly populated areas):
At least 50% of the population lives in rural grid cells.
Schematic overview of the system of urban/rural typologies including the DEGURBA classification: