By Klaus R. Kunzmann, 2000


Medium-sized towns located beyond metropolitan regions in Europe are among the victims of the current metropolitan fever in Europe. Despite all political rhetoric and European efforts to promote territorial cohesion, regions outside metropolitan regions are particularly are and will continue to be effected by globalizing forces and strong regional competition. While future oriented creative and knowledge industries flourish in a few metropolitan regions and in the core of Europe, regions and towns beyond such conurbations, and in the periphery of Europe, are increasingly struggling to maintain their economic, social and cultural functions. Medium-sized towns in such regions are particularly hit by the increasingly competitive global economy. This is particularly true for such towns in the South Baltic Arc, which is threatened by demographic and economic stagnation, and where mediumsized towns are in the shadow of the larger metropolitan centres of Hamburg, Berlin Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga and St. Petersburg. In order to secure employment and to maintain their service function for a stagnating regional population, these medium-sized towns are forced to find their own profile between international orientation and local embeddedness.

The paper explores ways and means how to stabilize the economic, social and cultural development functions of medium-sized towns. It stresses the importance of the territorial capital as a base for local and regional action, as the people living in these towns are seen as the significant territorial capital. Their competence and tacit knowledge, their community commitment, and their international networks are the capital for creative governance, where local and regional institutions in a socio-political environment of mutual trust have to cooperate and compliment each other. Only in such partnership of local and regional institutions future-oriented initiatives can be developed and implemented.