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IP/05/1552

Brussels, 8 December 2005

The Urban Audit provides key indicators on the quality of life in 258 European cities

Danuta Hübner the European Commissioner responsible for regional policy, opened the Urban Audit website and presented the “Urban Audit 2005” book today. The Urban Audit brings together a wide range of key indicators on the quality of life in 258 cities in the 25 Member States, and candidate countries. This is the first time that we have a complete picture of urban quality of life in the old and the new Member States. The Urban Audit 2005 includes information on 69 cities in the ten new Member States, Bulgaria and Romania. It allows mayors and other local elected officials to compare their city directly with other cities in Europe. Comparing cities can facilitate the exchange of experience and improve the quality of local urban policies. The Urban Audit will also aid the Member States in their preparation of the urban content of their National Strategic Reference Frameworks.

Ms Hübner noted “The Urban Audit provides key indicators on quality of life in 258 European cities, which will be updated every three years. I am confident that the Urban Audit will become a major reference for urban actors and citizens alike.” She added “For the first time, European cities can now easily compare themselves. Before this was almost impossible because city level information was extremely dispersed and often based on different national definitions.” For Commissioner Hübner, the most striking aspect are the neighbourhood disparities: “The Urban Audit reveals that the disparities in terms of unemployment or poverty are far greater within cities than between cities or regions. Even in affluent cities, the Urban Audit has found significantly deprived neighbourhoods.”

An analysis of the Urban Audit shows that:

  • Between 1996 and 2001, slightly more than half of the Urban Audit cities lost population. In the new Member States, Bulgaria and Romania, four out of five cities suffered a decline in population. Some cities lost more than 10% of their population such as Halle an der Saale, Germany and Maribor, Slovenia while others gained more than 10% such as Mallorca, Spain and Oulu, Finland.
  • Three out of four cities have a higher share of tertiary educated residents than their country as whole. Paris and Cambridge reported the highest share of tertiary educated with 37% and 32% of their population respectively.
  • Despite the high concentrations of jobs in cities, employment rates are lower in three out of four cities. The differences can be striking, for example in 2001, Manchester had an employment rate of 51% while the UK had an rate of 72%. To allow these cities to reach their national employment rates more 2 million new jobs are needed.
  • Concentrations of unemployment in deprived urban neighbourhoods can be extreme. Almost one out two cities had neighbourhoods with unemployment rates above 20%, reaching as high as 58%. Such high concentrations of unemployment could be found in both large and medium-sized cities.

Background

The Urban Audit brings together urban statistics for 258 cities across 27 European countries. It contains almost 300 statistical indicators presenting information on matters such as demography, society, the economy, the environment, transport, the information society and leisure.

It was launched in 2002 at the initiative of the Directorate-General for Regional Policy at the European Commission, in cooperation with EUROSTAT and the national statistical offices of the 25 current Member States, Bulgaria and Romania. It was completed this year. The Urban Audit will be updated in 2006. The new results will be published in 2007. In response to requests from Member States and individual cities, the new round will cover more than 300 cities.

To complement the quantitative data, a perception survey was carried out in 31 cities in the EU15. This survey will be repeated and expanded in 2006 to cover 50 cities in the EU27. The results of this survey have been published in a leaflet.
Further information can be found at: the Urban Audit website:
www.urbanaudit.org
and from Eurostat’s website
ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ .
A summary of the results per city are published in the book “Urban Audit 2005”. An earlier version of this book “Urban Audit 2004” covered the cities in the EU15 (more information – email address:

urban-audit@ec.europa.eu).
Further information:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm


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