European cities are vital to the future of Europe. They are economic powerhouses, places of social interaction and fora that enable us to exchange ideas. Cities, however, are also the places where some of our biggest challenges manifest themselves. In this ‘urban age’ cities are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibilities as well as their capacities to play their part in addressing issues like poverty, segregation, and climate change adaptation.
In ‘Cities in Europe/Cities in the Netherlands’, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency presents 25 infographics on European and Dutch cities and the urban dimensions of a number of key challenges featuring prominently on both the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Dutch Agenda Stad, the national urban agenda for the Netherlands.
Cities are expected to play a key role in delivering the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, green and inclusive growth (European Union, 2015). Therefore, the European Commission, EU Member States and European cities are collaborating to develop an Urban Agenda for the EU. The core objective of this Urban Agenda is to involve cities in the design of EU policy, to mobilise cities for the implementation of EU policies, and to strengthen the urban dimension in these policies.
The Europe 2020 strategy envisions the transition towards smart growth through the development of an economy based on knowledge, research and innovation. Concerning smart growth, cities are at the forefront of innovation. Moreover, the physical concentration of people and capital means that cities are more productive than other places.
The green growth objective relates to the promotion of more resource-efficient, greener and competitive markets. Healthy, compact and energy-efficient cities are key to green growth in Europe. Many European cities are currently developing or expanding their networks for sustainable transport, waste management, district heating and green infrastructures.
The inclusive growth priority of the Europe 2020 strategy encompasses policies aimed at fostering job creation and poverty reduction. Cities can contribute to inclusive growth by combating social polarisation and poverty, by providing affordable housing and by integrating refugees and migrants into urban society.
How do Europeans rate the quality of life in their city? To answer this question, the EU regularly conducts an extensive survey of almost 80 cities of varying sizes (European Union, 2016). This interactive visualisation shows the level of satisfaction according to seven indicators.
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Urban areas in Europe come in all shapes and sizes. In general, four different morphological types can be distinguished: monocentric, dispersed, linear and polycentric urban regions.