The growth of cities in Europe has historically been driven by increasing urban populations. However, today, even where there is little or no population pressure, a variety of factors are still driving urban sprawl. These are rooted in the desire to realise new lifestyles in suburban environments, outside the inner city. The mixture of forces behind these trends include both micro and macro socio-economic trends, which are resulting in sprawling cities all over Europe. The strategies and instruments to control sprawl strongly depend on today's realities of multiple and interacting levels of governance, from local to European. This is particularly true with regard to the substantial financial flows that shape planning budgets. At present, planning policies often reflect the logic of the market. They would better reflect a vision of urban development, in which environmental and social considerations are fully embedded in spatial planning policies at all steps of the policy cycle from problem identification and policy design through to the implementation and ex-post evaluation stages.