Cities play an important role in regional development and as part of strategies to promote territorial cohesion. Urban areas continue to attract population, albeit recently at a slower rate than in previous decades. Today, more than 70% of the population in Europe lives in urban areas, while by 2050 this is expected to reach 80%.
The importance of cities has been highlighted in several policy documents by the Member States and the European Commission. In particular the TA2020 emphasises the relevance of the most developed cities and regions within Europe cooperate as parts of a polycentric pattern to the development of their wider regions, to improve their performance in European and global competition and to promote economic prosperity towards sustainable development. In the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy, cities are motors of smart, sustainable and inclusive development and attractive places to live, work, visit and invest in.
The VASAB LTP background document (2009) contains a synthesis of the most relevant development tendencies in the BSR with a specific focus on the metropolitan regions and small and medium sized cities. Among the most important topics addressed in the document are: performance of the BSR metropolitan regions when it comes to the transnational economic integration and competiveness, development of innovation and R&D, as well as the gateway function of the metropolitan areas to markets and people (accessibility). Other dimensions are also mentioned in analysis of urban trends (e.g. the State of European Cities Report (2007) and Cities of the Baltic Sea Region – Development Trends at the Turn of the Millennium (2005); for instance population change environmental concern, poverty, and quality of life.
A comprehensive discussion of various urban indicators can be found under the cities menu.