Special Research Topic
Regional Analyses

Project: Urban Audit II Analysis

Project Duration

07/2008 - 02/2010 (finalized)

Commissioned by

EU-Commission, DG REGIO

Project Team (RWI)

Rüdiger Budde, Christoph Ehlert, Dr. Uwe Neumann (Chief), Dr. Matthias Peistrup


Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (Difu), Berlin; NEA Transport Research and Training, Zoetermeer; Policy Research & Consultancy, Bad Soden

Leader of Consortium



Regional and urban policy in Europe are faced with the challenge of increasing concern about urban issues on the one hand, and the fact that, on the other hand, lack of empirical foundation has hampered in-depth analysis about cities and their developmental dynamics in many cases. It is, therefore, the aim of the Urban Audit to improve comparative information on urban areas throughout Europe. The Urban Audit is under the responsibility of DG REGIO and Eurostat, and is based on collaborative work with national statistical offices from member states and the cities concerned. Following an initial pilot project with 58 cities in 1998, the first large-scale "Urban Audit" data collection, which started in 2002, covered 258 cities in the 27 member states and accession countries of the EU. 333 variables were processed covering demographic, social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects, civic involvement, accessibility and other aspects of the transport infrastructure, and use of modern information technology. The data compiled up to 2002 comprised data sets for the year 2001 and restricted sets for 1991 and 1996, i.e. it adds up to a longitudinal set comprising three “waves”. A fourth “wave” was added by a second large-scale collection, the Urban Audit II, which was carried out in 2006 and 2007 and covers the year 2004 (if not available, 2003 or 2005). A data set comprising 334 variables altogether was established for 321 cities of the EU 27 and in Croatia, Turkey, Norway and Switzerland. A key characteristic of the Urban Audit is that it is not only a very comprehensive collection of data about cities but also includes information on the respective larger urban zones and on sub-city districts. It is particularly the combination of peri-urban, city and sub-city information that renders the Urban Audit an invaluable source of empirical urban research, which is highly relevant for regional and urban policy. It is the scope of the Urban Audit II analysis to use this empirical base for an up-to-date cross-sectional review of the state of the urban system in Europe and - by using data from all of its “waves” – for a longitudinal observation of its dynamics since the early 1990s. Further it wants to encourage usage of the Urban Audit by providing user-friendly presentations of the data set itself and of the results of the analysis to be carried out in this research project. Last but not least the Urban Audit II wants to interpret the analysis in the context of the current discussion in urban research concerning the prospects of European cities and the factors shaping urban dynamics, to examine these results in the light of their urban and regional policy implications, and to draw conclusions concerning further development of the urban audit and/or harmonisation of urban statistics in Europe.

Selected project related publications

Discussion Papers


Neumann, U., R. Budde and C. Ehlert (2012), Urban Economic Growth in Europe Between 2001 and 2008 – Gravitation or Dispersion?. Ruhr Economic Papers #384. RWI. DOI: 10.4419/86788439 download

RWI Reports


RWI, Difu, NEA and PRAC (2010), Second State of European Cities Report. RWI Projektberichte download