Largest cities and metropolitan areas in the European Union (Eurostat)
Learn more about Largest cities and metropolitan areas in the European Union (Eurostat)
 Eurostat's urban population statistics
The list below provides the most accurate comparison of urban demographics in the European Union as it benefits from the harmonized Eurostat definitions<ref name="wrongb">"Urban Audit Methodological Handbook", Eurostat, 2004.</ref>. These definitions were agreed between Eurostat and the National Statistics Offices of the different countries of the European Union at the occasion of the European Commission's urban audit of 2004<ref name="wrongc">"The shift of Eurostat to Urban Statistics", Berthold Feldman, Eurostat, 2006-03-14.</ref>.
 Eurostat's urban definitions
The below list shows the population sizes by two spatial definitions: Larger Urban Zone and City. Eurostat typically defines the City Level by using political boundaries in order to make this definition directly relevant to policy makers and politicians. In many countries these boundaries are clearly established and well-known. As a result, for most cities the boundary used in the Urban Audit corresponds to the general perception of that city. However, for some cities such as for instance Paris it was necessary to develop another definition (see below). The Larger Urban Zone represents a harmonized definition of the metropolitan area. Eurostat's objective was to have an area from a significant share of the resident commute into the city, a concept known as the “functional urban region”. To ensure a good data availability, Eurostat works with administrative boundaries that approximate the functional urban region.
 Ranking methodology
The list below contains all cities in the European Union of which the population is one million or more for Eurostat's spatial definition of City. For those cities selected, the population for Eurostat's spatial definitions of City and Larger Urban Zone is shown. This approach avoids the list containing Larger Urban Zones that are commonly not regarded as true cities, eg Randstad. The cities are ranked by the size of the population of the Larger Urban Zone. Obviously, other lists can be created by using different selection criteria and by ranking on a different value. Yet whatever the selection or ranking methodology, the figures in the Eurostat database are harmonized for all of the European Union, making comparisons accurate. The data used is from the 2004 urban audit, which uses information collected for 2001, without any grossing up, in order to maintain full accuracy.
 European Union cities by population, in millions
 Comparison between London and Paris
Not only have such comparisons always proven difficult because of different definitions employed, in many cases they have also been controversial because of the old rivalry between these two capital cities. Eurostat finished this debate by creating three harmonized definitions<ref name="wrongd">"Towards a common standard - Comparing European and American Cities", GLA Economics, July 2005.</ref>. In terms of geographic area, Eurostat uses a larger surface area for the Kernel and City of London than for Paris and a larger surface area for the Larger Urban Zone of Paris than for London. Eurostat has also published maps to clearly demonstrate the difference<ref name="wronge">"The Urban Audit - An Introduction and The First Results", Elisabeth Helander, Eurostat, 2004.</ref>. The table below shows the 2001 figures used in the latest Urban Audit by the European Commission.
|Kernel||Inner London||2.8 million (322 km²)||2.1 million (105 km²)||La Ville de Paris|
|City||Greater London||7.2 million (1,578 km²)||6.3 million (762 km²)||Paris et petite couronne|
|Larger Urban Zone||Larger Urban Zone of London||11.6 mio (8,906 km²)||11.4 mio (12,012 km²)||Ile-de-France|
The London LUZ contains following authorities: Greater London, Basildon, Tonbridge and Malling, Epping Forest, St. Albans, Bracknell Forest, Broxbourne, Castle Point, Medway, Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley, Southend-on-Sea, Hertsmere, Uttlesford, Surrey Heath, Dartford, Chiltern, Dacorum, Elmbridge, Welwyn Hatfield, Guildford, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Stevenage, Spelthorne, Woking, Harlow, Tandridge, Reigate and Banstead, Three Rivers, Rochford, Sevenoaks, Slough, Watford, Windsor and Maidenhead, South Bucks, Runnymede, Thurrock, Maldon, Maidstone, East Hertfordshire, Gravesham and Tunbridge Wells.
UK authorities sometimes use broader definitions for the London metropolitan area, the Eurostat definition of London's LUZ for instance does not include Reading. This is why some UK definitions will result in a metropolitan population of 13 - 14 mio versus the 11.6 as defined by Eurostat (2001).
The harmonization of the city definitions also allows to compare GDP numbers for the first time. For 2003 these were €454.9 billion for LUZ Paris and €494.3 billion for LUZ London.
 Urban Audit
Eurostat's Urban Audit is about much more than demographics. In order for it to be useful as a policy tool to the European Commission and other authorities it contains data for over 250 indicators across the following domains<ref name="wrongf">"Urban Audit", European Commission, 2006.</ref>:
- Social Aspects
- Economic Aspects
- Civic Involvement
- Training and Education
- Travel and Transport
- Information Society
- Culture and Recreation