Metropolitan typology

The metropolitan typology is applied to NUTS level 3 regions and is used to classify them into one of two groups: metropolitan regions (including capital city metropolitan regions) or non-metropolitan regions. Metropolitan regions are defined as a single NUTS level 3 region or its groups in which 50% or more of the population lives in a functional urban area (FUA) that is composed of at least 250 000 inhabitants. Remaining NUTS level 3 regions are referred to as non-metropolitan regions.

When within one functional urban area of at least 250 000 inhabitants there is more than one NUTS level 3 regions where at least 50% of the population lives in this functional urban area, then these NUTS level 3 regions together form one metropolitan region. The exception in such situations may be applied to capital regions, which may be separated as a single metropolitan region.

Each functional urban area of at least 250 000 inhabitants must have its counterpart in the metropolitan region. If the creation of a metropolitan region for such a functional urban area is not possible in accordance with general criteria, then the NUTS level 3 region with the largest percentage of the population living in that functional urban area is considered as a metropolitan region (even if this percentage is less than 50%). Similarly, every capital region has to be within a metropolitan region, i.e. a NUTS level 3 region including a state capital has to form a metropolitan region (or be part of a metropolitan region consisting of several NUTS level 3 regions), even if such capital region does not meet the general criteria.

The metropolitan typology is being updated with the results of censuses, i.e. after obtaining new data on population density in the 1 km2 grid, as well as after obtaining new data on commuting shares and each time after the introduction of a NUTS revision.

The metropolitan typology was developed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) in association with Eurostat. This typology was first presented in 2009. Subsequently, EU metropolitan regions were compared with OECD metropolitan regions and this comparison led to the development of a consistent definition of metropolitan regions used by both organisations.