Important legal notice
AGRILIFE- Agriculture and life sciences in the economy
SUSTAG - Sustainable Agriculture
Common Feature of Diverse European Rural Areas: Review of Approaches to Rural Typology


The objectives of this study are i) to provide an overview of existing approaches and results concerning characterisation and typologies of rural areas for territorial/spatial impact assessment of policies, ii) to show pros and cons of approaches to rural typologies in respect to territorial socio-economic modelling – i.e. the quantitative assessment of the impact of rural development policies by using spatially differentiated economic models, and iii) to draw recommendation for an approach to be selected in further research.


The research on this theme is a start to review and select structural and performance characteristics (indicators) of rural areas. Based on it, a specific policy relevant typology of rural areas will be developed.

The research on rural characterisation will consider “rural-urban continuum”. The typology will cluster “rural-urban continuum” – likely regions at NUTS3 level - from various perspectives. There will be no specific aim to provide definition of “rurality”, rather an appropriate (working) definition will be selected (in cooperation with customers – DG AGRI) and also a sensitivity analysis of the typology against different definitions of “rurality” might be conducted.

A conceptual framework of sustainable rural development is critical for decision on performance indicators and will be subject of the work under this theme. The typology and indicators should provide information on needs of rural areas of the EU on one hand, and it have to be also relevant to measuring impacts of policies on the other hand. Studying medium and long term policy context (debates and agendas) is essential for enhancing policy relevance of the typology and indicators.


The final report synthesises all the work done within the project and particularly elaborates on recommendations for an approach to rural typology to be adopted in the further research, available at:

Expert Workshop: Diversity of Rural Areas in the Enlarged EU: Characterisation, typology and modelling (December 2006)

Sergio Gomez y Paloma
Joint Research Centre