The Eurocity Chaves-Verín consists of the territory that the Municipality of Chaves and the Municipality of Verín occupy in the Alto Valley Támega in northern Portugal and southeastern Galicia, respectively.
Chaves is a municipality with just over 41 thousand inhabitants (of which about 20 thousand in the urban perimeter), being the structuring urban center of the Alto Támega territory (6 municipalities with about 92 thousand inhabitants).
Verín, for its part, is a municipality of just over 14,000 inhabitants, the centre of an extensive functional area (which includes not only the Monterrei-Verín district, with 25,000 inhabitants, but also some municipalities in neighbouring districts).
The territory of the Eurocity Chaves-Verín constitutes a population continuum, administratively separated by the border. From a geographical point of view, it is a large valley, joined by the river Támega and crossed by a tectonic fault, which offers the specific conditions for the exploitation of a fundamental resource for the economy of the Eurocity Chaves-Verín: water.
According to the Census, in 2011 there were 55,710 people living in the Eurocity Chaves-Verín, with the population of the Municipality of Chaves corresponding to nearly three quarters and the other quarter to that of Verín.
However, the weight of the population of Chaves in the cross-border agglomeration has been decreasing in recent decades, as a population loss was observed in Chaves, of 8% compared to 1970, while in Verín, the resident population increased by 45% compared to the same reference period.
Source: INE / INE
By major age groups, the population living in the Eurocity older than 65 years (24.0%) almost doubles the population aged 15 years or less (13.1%). The population weight is even more relevant when compared with data from both countries, or the Euroregion Galicia-Norte de Portugal. Likewise, except for Galicia, the weight of the population aged 15 or less in the Eurocity is lower than the data recorded by both countries and the Euroregion.
Source: INE / INE, 2011
Regarding its territorial dimension, the Eurocity has a surface area of 685.3 km2. Also in this case, Chaves contributes most of the territorial area (591.2 km2) to the Eurocity Chaves-Verín, with an area six times larger than the municipality of Verín (94.1 km2). In fact, this proportion is similar when comparing the average size of Portuguese municipalities with the average size of Spanish municipalities, highlighting the greater importance of local government in Portugal compared to local government in Spain.
Source: INE / INE, 2011
The population density of the Eurocity is 81.3 hab/km2, below the average of both countries and the Euroregion. This value highlights the weight of rural areas in the municipality of Chaves, resulting in a low population density of the municipality (69.8 inhabitants per km2), despite the size of its city. In contrast, Verín's density (153.7 km2) more than doubles that of Chaves, being above the average for both Spain and Galicia.
The population data of Eurocity must be analysed in its territorial context. Its territory is located in a rural and inland area, far from the main metropolitan areas of the Iberian Peninsula.
Besides its frontier character, normally associated with low population densities, its territory is witnessing depopulation phenomena and rural exodus, low birth rates and accelerated ageing of the population.
The fact that both the city of Chaves, in the region of Alto Támega, and Verín, in the county of Monterrei, are positioned as urban centers of reference in their area of influence, marked by their rural character, constitute an alternative to the population exodus to the big cities.
However, the low levels of young population in rural areas and neighbouring municipalities jeopardise the future attractiveness of the two cities in its territory of influence.
The implementation of the strategic lines of Europe 2020, through investment in growth and employment in a context of cross-border cooperation is essential to reverse the regressive population trends seen in the Eurocity and its territory of influence.