From 1 January to 30 June 2015, Latvia holds the six-month rotating Presidency of the European Union. A proposal from Latvia is to start reforms of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) as part of efforts to seal a compromise deal. Moreover, the year 2015 is the “European Year for Development 2015” and more than 300 officials from 38 countries attended the launch in Riga. It is not by chance the launch took place in the Latvian capital. Latvia not only holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, but in fact, the initiative originated in this country.
Within the Latvian EU Presidency, the EUKN published the report "Challenges of Small and Medium-Sized Urban Areas (SMUAs), their economic growth potential and impact on territorial development in the European Union and Latvia" comissioned by the Norwegian financial instrument programme 2009-2014 No. LV07 for the Latvian EU Presidency. The aim of the report is to provide a basis for formulating significant policy conclusions and recommendations about the economic performance, development challenges and preconditions of Small and Medium-Sized Urban Areas.
For decades SMUAs have been at the core of urbanisation in Europe. Europe is an urban continent but unlike other continents the urban pattern of Europe is more polycentric with relatively small cities. About 70% of Europe's population is living in urban areas, but about 66% of Europe’s urban dwellers are residing in urban areas with less than 500,000 inhabitants. This is considerably more than in other world regions, especially Northern America, where only one third of the population lives in smaller cities. While SMUAs are prominent in EU territory they are largely unexplored in terms of social, spatial and economic trends because of the lack of comparable data and relative political disregard. This analysis sheds light on their main challenges, barriers and potentials for economic development. Which further shows how local, regional, national and EU policies can strengthen the economic development of SMUAs, including their contribution to territorial development. Read more.