- Freight connectivity and economic development are closely related. The more intercontinental throughput can be reached, the more opportunities for trade are easily accessible for a region.
- Insufficient road infrastructure as well as the absence of nearby ports decreases the throughput of containers, i.e. the amount of containers passing through the region, which implies less opportunities for economic development.
- The Baltic States and the Northern parts of the Nordic countries and some regions in Southeast Europe, have no throughput of containers by road within a 36 hours timeframe.
Observations for policy
Most European regions are well connected by road to Europe鈥檚 most important seaports within 36 hours. Central and Western European regions have the highest accessibility in terms of container throughput, which is not only limited to coastal regions but applies also to landlocked hinterland regions with well developed road connections.
Less well-connected regions to global freight connectivity might lack the presence of a nearby major European port, or have insufficient road infrastructure. The latter accounts mainly for regions in Southeast Europe. Even though Southeast Europe has major container ports, linking Europe with the rest of the world, the road infrastructure including transhipment could be improved, making better connections between the ports and their hinterland and remove bottlenecks.
To a large extent the global freight connectivity by road reflects the density of Europe highways, with slightly lower throughput in very densely populated areas and highways with many exits causing congestion.
Regional access to the global market is important for the region鈥檚 competitiveness, exports and GDP. A large share of the global trade is shipped in containers. Goods are transported from Europe鈥檚 ports via road, rail and waterways across Europe and across the globe.
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. This is also supported by EU Cohesion Policy, which aims at sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructure. Illustrating the regional accessibility by different modes of transport can help to indicate and show these bottlenecks.
Road infrastructure is the dominant mode of transport. Europe鈥檚 Common Transport Policy aims at a core European network connecting 94 main ports to rail and road links, 38 key airports with rail connections, 15.000 km of railway lines upgraded to high speed and 35 cross-border projects to reduce bottlenecks.
Territorial Cohesion, one of the main objectives of Europe鈥檚 regional and urban policy, entails inter alia fair access to infrastructure services and the reduction of economic disparities. Freight connectivity implies that cities and regions have access to the locations of materials for production and services and to markets. It is believed that cities and regions that are most accessible will be more productive, more competitive and hence more successful than regions that are more remote and isolated.
The map illustrates the accessibility of European regions to European intercontinental container ports. The accessibility is measured as the number of containers that can be transported to and shipped from nearby ports within 36 hours by road.
Most regions have access to European seaports by road. However, core and peripheral European regions, in terms of global freight connectivity, can be distinguished. This has two main reasons. First, most of Europe鈥檚 major ports are centred around the North Sea. Secondly the global freight connectivity of regions outside North West Europe is less due to less dense road infrastructure with less capacity. This applies, fro example, to regions in the Northern Periphery and in South East Europe, mainly in countries from the former republic of Yugoslavia. Some regions in the Northern Periphery and the Baltic States cannot be reached by road within the 36 hours timeframe.
Other ports might be less relying on connection to their hinterland by road. For example the ports in the Mediterranean are more focused on transhipment between large intercontinental ships and smaller ships connecting the rest of Europe.
Concepts and methods
Global freight connectivity is an accessibility indicator from Europe鈥檚 intercontinental ports. The map includes those European ports with intercontinental links and a throughput of more than 250.000 TEU containers (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) per year via road. Throughput is defined as the amount of containers passing through a region.
The map displays the number of intercontinental container throughputs that can reach the NUTS3 regions within 36 hours by road. If a seaport is within the maximum travel time, the intercontinental container throughput of that port will be added to the regional global connectivity value for freight in thousands TEU per year. The travel time includes fixed time, e.g. loading time and resting times.