26 Mar 2012

Getting comparable data on European countries, regions and cities is not always that easy. Some countries collect some data one way, others collect data another, some don't collect data at all. So we thought it might be useful to highlight a couple of websites that may be of use to those trying to hunt down European data sets.

First stop for all data Europe-related is Eurostat. Eurostat is the official statistical agency of the European Commission. It's main task is to provide the European Union with statistics at European level that enable comparisons between countries and regions. Part of this mandate involves collecting data to inform EU policy development, such as indicators on the Europe 2020 agenda and sustainable development. The vast majority of the data it provides is at country level.

Things get a bit trickier when you move down to that all important regional level. European data is often classified based on NUTS (Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics) hierarchical geographic levels, with NUTS 1 being the largest spatial scale and NUTS 3 being the smallest. Getting a range of comparable EU-wide data at NUTS 1 and 2 is easy enough through Eurostat, however NUTS 3 level data is harder to come by. A great resource for accessing NUTS 3 data is the ESPON regional database. This web-based interface allows you to access the range of data used in ESPON research projects.

At the city scale, comparable EU-wide data is even more difficult to track down. The most comprehensive source is the Urban Audit. The Urban Audit undertakes a data collection exercise every three years, however it is not always possible to get total EU coverage for some of the statistics. The most recent audit was undertaken in 2009, with new data from that audit being uploaded online as we type.

These are just a couple of EU-wide data resources available. The most difficult part of compiling EU data is dealing with issues of comparability and consistency in data collection, so always be on guard and happy data hunting!