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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Accessibility to population within 3 hours, 2010

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Map
data source and more Map: ITAN Mcrit
Data sources: ESPON Database, Mcrit 2013
 

  • Proximity and good access to densely populated areas is for instance relevant for investors and policy-makers to determine location for comparative advantages, e.g. high demands.
  • Western Europe and large metropolitan areas in the neighbourhoods, such as Moscow, Istanbul and the Nile Valley are among the areas with the highest accessibility by road and rail.
  • Accessibility to population in Europe is gradually declining from Europe鈥檚 core areas, whereas the European neighbourhoods display more discontinuities between regions in accessibility reflecting poorer transport facilities.

Observations for policy

The European neighbourhoods entail great diversity in terms of socio-economic, cultural, or environmental development and demographics. This includes very populous and urbanised regions. Both European regions as well as the Neighbouring countries can benefit from interaction supported by good transport infrastructure.

Differences in accessibility can be found within Europe as well as between Europe and its neighbourhoods. Although the neighbourhoods include areas with high population density, the transport connections can be improved increasing the accessibility of these regions and decreasing discontinuities between the urbanised and high densities areas and its surroundings.

A dense transport network with high capacity across Europe and between European regions and the European neighbourhoods is important for trade and the flows of goods and people.

Policy context

European countries are connected with their neighbourhoods via flows of goods and people. The European neighbourhoods are an important market for European goods and vice versa. Many regions in Europe鈥檚 neighbourhoods are both growing in terms of population and economy. This makes these regions interesting for trade, due to a large labour market and as market for European products. Well-developed transport connections are therefore of relevance not only connecting European Member States but also beyond Europe鈥檚 borders. Europe invests inter alia through its Cohesion Policy in key network infrastructures and promotes removing bottlenecks.

Accessible population is also relevant for Europe鈥檚 smart growth objective. Human interaction is important to share tacit knowledge and to exchange ideas. Theories in economic geography state that the uptake and likelihood to enhance R&D and innovations is higher in areas where more persons can be reached in a short time span.

The Common Transport Policy aims at developing, competitive modes of transport that help to reduce the peripheral nature of regions as well as the development of lagging regions with poor endowments of transport networks and high transport costs.

Map interpretation

The map illustrates diversity regarding the sum of all population that can be reached in three hours by land transport. More densely populated areas, such as Western Europe and the metropolitan areas of Moscow, Istanbul and the Nile Valley are important areas of accessibility. Low accessibility can be found in the outermost regions to the North, South and East.

The differences in accessibility display two types of opposition. The first is about demographic density. The more densely populated areas in Europe as well as in the Neighbourhoods show higher accessibility. The second is about the transport infrastructure. The accessibility is based on the population that can be reached by land transport within three hours. The density as well as the capacity of the road and rail network influences accessibility. The map illustrates more discontinuities between areas with high and low population densities in the Neighbourhoods as well as in South Eastern Europe. This illustrates either a less dense transport network connecting the main urban areas and their surroundings or transport infrastructures with less capacity. The amount of population that can be reached within three hours is larger in Europe鈥檚 most populated areas in Western Germany, the Benelux, Southeast England, Northern France and Northern Italy. The density as well as the capacity of the transport infrastructure is higher in these regions with better connections to other parts of Europe.

Concepts and methods

Accessibility to population is shown by the number of population that can be reached within three hours using land transport. Land transport includes all transport via rail and road. A higher density of land transport entails more road and rail connections. A higher capacity of these transport infrastructures entail for example the difference between roads and motorways, with separated lanes, single or multiple railway lines or high-speed railway connections. The number of persons that can be reached is shown per NUTS3 levels and the equivalent of SNUTS for the neighbouring countries.


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