European Environment Agency (EEA)

EEA Briefing 4/2006 - Urban sprawl in Europe


Courtesy of Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Europe is one of the most urbanised continents on earth, with approximately 75 % of its population living in urban areas. The urban future of Europe, however, is a matter of great concern. More than a quarter of the European Union's territory has now been directly affected by urban land use. By 2020, approximately 80 % of Europeans will be living in urban areas. In seven countries the proportion will be 90 % or more. As a result, the demand for land in and around cities is becoming acute. On a daily basis, we all witness rapid, visible and conflicting changes in land use which are
shaping landscapes and affecting the environment in and around cities as never before. Cities are spreading, minimising the time and distances between them and in-and-out of them. This expansion is occurring in a scattered way across Europe, driven by changing lifestyles and consumption, and is commonly termed urban sprawl. Available evidence demonstrates conclusively that urban sprawl has accompanied the growth of cities across Europe over the past 50 years.

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