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Rural Vision

Maps & Data

We need new and more specific rural data to better understand rural diversity, provide evidence for policy making on rural areas, implement rural proofing, evaluate the impact of EU legislative initiatives and track progress towards the shared goals.

The new rural observatory, improved rural statistics and a definition of functional rural areas contribute to this need.


The rural observatory

Improving rural statistics

Functional Rural Areas

The commission has developed a draft methodology of functional rural areas to make it easier to compare data between countries with very different municipality sizes and will enable new types of analysis, in particular on access to services.

The paper “Developing a definition of Functional Rural Areas in the EU” was published on 23 November 2023. The result of this methodology can be visualised: FRAs Demo (Experimental).

The Commission will continue working and further refining the methodology, in dialogue with partners, such as national statistical offices, scientists working on functional geographies (e.g.: GRANULAR and RUSTIK), the World Bank and the OECD. An OECD project on functional rural areas financed by the Commission has started in the second half of 2023. It will test the value of the approach for non-EU OECD countries.

Rural research projects


The European spatial planning observatory network (ESPON) funds research projects and targeted analysis dedicated to territorial analysis. It has a specific stream of work on rural development.

Explore ESPON’s work on rural development


Our "Resources" section has been moved to the Rural Pact Community Platform and keeps being complemented with new resources. Check it out!