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Network on Urban Research in the EU

by Jürgen Schweikart

An European Atlas of Agglomerations is only one of several projects that the research group NUREC is working on. Researchers from thirteen countries conduct projects, exchange data and their knowledge in order to enable comparative information on cities and urban areas in Europe.

Comparative research concerned with European cities is difficult to do in two respects. On the one hand the comparability of statistical indicators poses a problem, and on the other national definitions of cities differ from one another in many ways. The historical, economic and political differences within Europe thus become particularly evident when we look at cities.

The Network on Urban Research in the European Union, N.U.R.E.C. constitutes a framework for international and interdisciplinary research. The Network is soon to become an international association in Belgian Law with its legal seat in Antwerp. Its Administrative Directorate is in Duisburg and its Scientific Directorates are in Paris and Milan. N.U.R.E.C. is non-profit-making.

The purpose of N.U.R.E.C. is to carry out international and interdisciplinary research programmes relating to the territory of the European Union, though not exclusively.

In order to achieve this goal the Network defines projects and makes use of appropriate means, such as databases, publications, conferences etc., for their implementation.

The projects are financed by resources provided by its members, research contracts, sponsoring and income from the sale of N.U.R.E.C.’s products.

There are different forms of membership: ordinary members with unrestricted eligibility and the right to vote; associate members with restricted eligibility, a restricted right to vote and a consultative vote; and finally individual members with a consultative vote. Only non-profit-making organisations such as regional or municipal administrative bodies, departments of universities, research institutes etc. are entitled to full membership.

Organizations from countries outside the European Union have the possibility to become associate members and thus participate in all N.U.R.E.C. activities. Individual membership is possible in exceptional cases.

To date N.U.R.E.C. has 31 ordinary members, 8 associate members and 1 individual member from a total of 13 countries.

Within the N.U.R.E.C. integrated project framework the first step of the Europolis database resulted in the Atlas of Agglomerations in the European Union. This is being followed by the European City Survey, a project comprising several sub-projects starting with the Structural Change of the European City System which is under way.

Furthermore, N.U.R.E.C. is cooperating with the UN Centre for Human Settlements, Habitat, the UN Statistical Division, UNSTAT, the International Statistical Institute, ISI and the International Union of Local Authorities, IULA to conduct the Large Cities Statistics Project, LCSP. The aim of the project is to construct a world-wide system of data collection and dissemination concerning the World's large cities. In order to compile the data questionnaires were sent to the World's cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants. Well in advance of the deadline a high rate with an even global spread is reported. LCSP will result in several publications including collections of city profiles and a revised edition of the International Statistical Yearbook of Large Towns.

The Atlas of Agglomerations in the European Union was published in late 1994. The Atlas contains maps of 330 agglomerations and their complementary areas accompanied by data on these and 8.220 basic administrative units. For the definition of the agglomerations a morphological approach was chosen based on the UN criterion of contiguous built-up areas which states that a building is part of the built-up area if the distance between former and latter does not exceed 200 metres.

N.U.R.E.C. also publishes the Europolis Working Papers at irregular intervals and Internal Circulars addressed to members and interested parties.

Recent publications:

N.U.R.E.C. (Ed)(1994): Atlas of Agglomerations in the European Union. Duisburg. (ISBN 3-89279-052-3, 973 pages, 300 ECU, please enquire for special rates).

EUROPOLIS - Working papers. (ISBN 3-89279-024-8)


Administrative Directorate: c/o Amt für Statistik, Stadtforschung und Europaangelegenheiten Bismarckstr. 150-158 D 47049 Duisburg Germany

Scientific Directorate: c/o Institut National des Etudes Démographiques 27, rue du Commandeur F 75014 Paris France

Dr. Jürgen Schweikart

EURODATA Newsletter No.1, p.19