As part of the development of a European Seismic Risk Model 2020 (ESRM20), the spatial and temporal evolution of seismic design across Europe has been studied in order to better classify reinforced concrete buildings (which represent more than 30% of the approximately 145 million residential, commercial and industrial buildings in Europe) and map them to vulnerability models based on simulated seismic design. This paper summarises the model that has been developed to assign the years when different seismic design levels (low code, moderate code and high code) were introduced in a number of European countries and the associated lateral forces that were specified spatially within each country for the low and moderate codes for typical reinforced concrete mid-rise buildings. This process has led to an improved understanding of how design regulations evolved across Europe and how this has impacted the vulnerability of the European residential building stock. The model estimates that ~ 60% of the reinforced concrete buildings in Europe have been seismically designed, and of those buildings ~ 60% have been designed to low code, ~ 25% to moderate code and 15% to high code. This seismic design model aims at being a dynamic source of information that will be continuously updated with additional feedback from local experts and datasets. To this end, all of the data has been made openly available as shapefiles on a GitLab repository.