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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Typology of European gateways, 2006-2010

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  • The geographical targets of connections display a clear diversity between larger cities in Europe
  • Cities in the Mediterranean region tend to have their main connections to partners in Latin America and Africa
  • In northern Europe, including parts of Germany and Austria, cities are more oriented towards partners in Asia

Observations for policy

Cities are motors of economic development and many of them are important gateways for globalisation in Europe. Europe needs international ports, airports, centres of services, knowledge production and innovation as well as financial gateways that reach thresholds of concentration to benefit from agglomeration economies in these different fields. In Europe, there are considerable territorial imbalances as regards the location and type of links to non-European cities.

Policy context

Cities and globalisation are two issues underlined in many policy documents. Europe’s growth depends also on its capacity (a) to grasp opportunities deriving from globalisation, and (b) to benefit from integration with its neighbourhood and more distant parts of the world. In these processes European cities have a double role to play. They are important hubs for the interaction with stakeholders outside Europe and, at the same time, they need to serve engines for European development.

Map interpretation

The map shows the profile and specialisation of European cities in global networks as well as their weight in the overall European connections with the worlds.

The colour indicates the prevailing geographical focus and type of connections. The size of the circles indicates the city’s weight in the overall external European connections. With regard to this, London remains the main global gateway for Europe as it has the highest number of connections adding up 25 per cent of all extra-European connections.

When it comes to networking relations with other cities in the world there is clear specialisation of European cities. For instance, cities located in the Mediterranean region, but also in Belgium and the Netherlands are mainly oriented towards Africa and Latin America. This can be partly explained by the cultural and historical relations. In other cities different reasons apply (e.g. Barcelona, Genoa, Rome, or Thessaloniki). In northern Europe, including parts of Germany and Austria, connections to Asia are becoming increasingly dominant.

Concepts and methods

The classification is based on six types of functions. For each the total connectivity and extra-continental connectivity have been measured. This approach includes the following datasets:

  • Firms in advanced producer services (GaWC), 2008;
  • Air connections, 2008;
  • Containers connectivity of ports, 2006;
  • Foreign quotation on stock exchanges, 2010;
  • Average of investments in office real estate between cities, 2007-2010;
  • Location of corporate headquarters, 2008.

In order to make these indicators comparable the share of each city connections has been aggregated. The final classification is based on a combination of volume, specialisation and geographical focus. The volume indicates the importance and active role of cities in each type of network. The specialisation shows which gateway functions are the most suitable, and the geographical focus explains to which world regions the connections are mainly oriented.


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