NUTS and statistical regions in Albania The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS, in French language ‘Nomenclature d’UnitésTerritorialesStatistiques’) is a geographical nomenclature dividing up the territory of the European Union into regions of three different levels (NUTS 1, 2 and 3, respectively), moving from larger to smaller territorial units. The NUTS is based on the Regulation 1059/2003 on the establishment of a common classification of territorial units for statistics, approved in 2003 and amended in the following years to extend the NUTS system to the new Member States. When a new country joins EU, its territory is organized in statistical regions corresponding to NUTS.
The NUTS classification subdivides the territory of the Member States into territorial units. It attributes to each territorial unit a specific code and name. The NUTS classification is hierarchical; dividing each Member State into NUTS level 1 territorial unit, and then dividing each one of them into NUTS level 2 territorial units, which in turn are divided into NUTS level 3 territorial units. In each Member State, there can be further hierarchical levels of detail, based on the decision of the Member State, to further split the NUTS level 3 regions.
The main purpose of dividing the country into NUTS areas is to establish a common statistical classification of territorial units, in order to enable the collection, compilation and dissemination of harmonized regional statistics in the Community.
Existing administrative units within the Member States constitute the first criterion used for the definition of territorial units. To this end, ‘administrative unit’ means a geographical area with an administrative authority that has the power to take administrative or policy decisions for that area within the legal and institutional framework of the Member State.
The main principles for the NUTS classification are:
- NUTS regulation defines minimum and maximum population thresholds for the size of the NUTS regions. Nevertheless, despite the aim of ensuring that regions of comparable size all appear at the same NUTS level, each level still contains regions which differ greatly in terms of population.
- NUTS classification favors administrative divisions (normative criterion). For practical reasons the NUTS classification is based on the administrative division applied in the Member States that generally comprise two main regional levels. The additional third level is created by aggregating small administrative units.
- NUTS favor general geographical units.
In order to establish the relevant NUTS level in which a given class of administrative units in a Member State is to be classified, the average size of this class of administrative units in the Member State have to lie within the population thresholds identified in the NUTS regulation (persons who have their usual residence in the given area are to be counted as the population of the area).
The relevant thresholds are:
NUTS level Minimum population Maximum population
NUTS 1 3,000,000 7,000,000
NUTS 2 800,000 3,000,000
NUTS 3 150,000 800,000
The NUTS Regulation is operational within the European Statistical System and is serving its primary purpose as a framework for regional statistics at European level. The Member States submit regional statistics to EUROSTAT in line with the NUTS classification in several domains. In some domains Member States are under a legal obligation to submit regional data, while in others they provide them under informal agreements. Most data are collected at NUTS level 2. A minor number of tables are provided at the more detailed NUTS level 3.
Even though the NUTS classification is defined only for the Member States of the EU, statistical regions are defined through negotiations between candidate and potential candidate countries, and Eurostat. In view of Albania’s EU accession, the classification of statistical regions was agreed and entered into force in the country in April 2011.
Albania is currently divided into 3 statistical regions corresponding to NUTS level 2, and into 12 regions corresponding to NUTS level 3. The 12 regions under level 3 are the administrative regions. The 3 regions under level 2 are classified as:
- North region including the Qarks of Dibër, Durrës, Kukës, Lezhë, Shkodër
- Central region including the Qarks of Elbasan and Tiranë
- South region including the Qarks of Berat, Fier, Gjirokastër, Korcë, Vlorë.
The EU classification of regions as urban, intermediate and rural is then based on the above mentioned official territorial classification of the territory of Albania, for statistical purposes.