The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics is an EU standard which defines three levels of territorial units. Whether directly because of this or because of related regulations, Poland underwent an administrative reform a couple of years before the EU accession. Before the reform, Poland had a two-level division, which was changed to a three-level one.

Why is it considered better that the countries of the EU (at least the larger ones) be divided this way?

2 Answers 2


First of all you may not consider the NUTS scale as influencing political or administrative divisions directly. Because then you would need to consider also the LAU (Local administrative unit) which before represented the NUTS level 4 and 5.

You can as an example look at Luxembourg where NUTS-1 through -3 is identical with the whole country and which consists only of LAUs. In larger countries the NUTS-levels together with the LAU-levels give policy makers the ability to gather statistics independently of territorial subdivisions. You do not need to have an administrative subdivision to apply a NUTS-level to a part of a larger division.

In short NUTS and LAU are statistical tools that, while often coinciding with administrative boundaries, do not need to be equal with administrative subdivisions.


There isn't an objective reason but the common sense makes think this:

  • Case 1, Two levels of organization, imagine that you have a very large territory to be administrated by only 1 person (governors), if that is so then the "distance" between the citizens and that person is long, because he has several problems to solve and several major works to undertake, and usually these governors attend the source of the votes the capitol of the province, isolating the other cities, causing some people will feel that they are unattended by the government. The second bigger problem is that other parties won't be in executive government of the region and that causes sectarianism, rancor and despair with the party which is in control.

  • Case 2, Three levels of organization, when a person has smaller territories to be administrate is easy to think that this person become more efficient in work, because that person is near to the problems, that makes that the citizens (and their problems) easier to attend by this person. The second point is that splitting a big region in smaller ones "creates" more political positions that helps to minority parties to take some of these positions, reducing the rancor and despair between parties.

  • But there weren't big provinces (voivodeships) in Poland before the reform. There were many small ones, divided into very small communes. Before the reform there were 49 voivodeships. Now there are 16, and a new level (powiat) was created to fit between the large voivodeships and the very small communes. They are smaller than the pre-reform voivodeships: there are almost 400 of them. But they're larger than the communes.
    – ymar
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 12:37

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