Europe has large geographical differences in terms of economic and social development. Differences emerge both between and within Member States and regions, but also between urban and rural areas within regions. This has relevance for the Europe 2020 Strategy with regard to its objectives of inclusive growth and social cohesion (European Commission, 2010). The Social Investment Package (SIP) promotes efficient and effective social policies that respond to and support people’s needs throughout their lives, recognising the spatial dimension as an important element of good governance. To this end, the European Commission’s country-specific recommendations take into account spatial aspects (European Commission, 2012).
This policy brief explores differences in quality of life in urban and rural Europe drawing on Eurofound’s third European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS). Previous research has found important differences in material deprivation and living standards between urban and rural areas especially in poorer Member States, while other aspects of quality of life also differ between urban and rural areas in richer countries (Eurofound, 2006). This document builds on these findings, adding analysis of recent data and paying attention to the impacts of the crisis.