Modern cities in the open European space-economy are powerhouses of creative ideas, smart technologies, sustainable developments and socio-economic wealth. They play a pivotal role in the future of an urbanized Europe, but they are also confronted with grand challenges, notably far-reaching demographic transformations, environmental decay and climatological change, unequal social participation and ever-rising mobility trends. The challenges for urban environments may be turned into new opportunities, in particular, in such domains as advanced infrastructure and logistic systems, environmental and climate-neutral facilities, creative and knowledge-intensive strategies for socio-economic prosperity and well-being. Cities-and in particular metropolitan areas-may thus act as spearheads of sustainable economic growth for European countries. These observations call for appropriate long-range policy strategies for metropolitan areas-and networks of cities-in the highly diversified European space-economy. Such policy actions would need to be supported by solid, multidisciplinary and evidence-based research on the challenges and opportunities of urban environments in Europe. The main contribution of this paper lies in the systematic strategic approach to transform urban megatrends and challenges into research and policy concerns for Europe. The analytical framework employed to highlight and better understand such research and policy response in Europe from a typological perspective is built around four interconnected pillars (cornerstones) that form the focal points for identifying strategic future images that may be instrumental in mapping out the research and policy challenges for the "New Urban Europe". © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.