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Map Finder

The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Position of European cities, 2010

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Map
 

  • In Europe, in particular London and Paris are home to a large variety of companies with different roles in different global networks
  • London and Paris outperform New York as gatekeepers from a global perspective receiving investments and spreading them into their respective continents. however, cities like Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Munich and Zurich appear to do better than one may expect
  • Eastern Europe cities, including the capitals, are relatively weaker and continue to be satellite cities within the global networks

Observations for policy

Focusing smart growth strategies on cities, which are home to major global service providers, may strengthen the global attractiveness of some European locations. Understanding the roles of cities in the global firm networks may allow policy-makers to better target policies to their specific needs. This concerns, for instance, the types of capital needed or connectivity needs, which differ depending on the role played in global networks. Furthermore, ‘platform cities’ have to take special care to strongly embed those platform structures into the local milieu in order to avoid an over-dependence on external factors. In Europe, reinforcing endogenous investment capacities of Eastern European cities seems necessary if they are to move up the global (and European) urban hierarchy.

Policy context

Europe’s big cities are main gateways to the world. The EC report on ‘Europe 2020 Strategy’ identifies smart growth as a key component of economic growth and recovery from the economic and financial crisis. Smart places attract people and firms from a wider area, even from outside Europe. They are transport hubs, nodes in the global financial systems or the locus of research institutes in cutting-edge and international innovation networks. In a world that has become more networked, ownership relations across national and continental borders are more and more important. Consequently, where decision-making is taking place and financial flows running and where important exchange-points of such flows are located in Europe, require enhanced policy attention as part of supporting European competitiveness in the world.

Map interpretation

Cities are important nodes for links into the global economy. Multinational firm networks use cities as gateways for internationalization. In particular for overseas investments arriving in Europe, ‘continental gatekeepers’ are privileged in receiving the investment, spreading it in a second step to the continent they represent. Inversely ‘continental representatives’ offer multinational firms the means to reach places outside Europe. Finally, ‘international platforms’ play the role of intermediaries between other continents in general for financial or organizational function. The ESPON FOCI project presents, based on the sample of 3000 networks of multinational firms, three maps showing a hierarchy of European cities based on locations of multinational corporations and their subsidiaries.

In Europe, London largely dominates among the ‘continental gatekeepersas the host for North American and Asian headquarters, especially from New York, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Mumbai. Paris represents half of the weight of London鈥檚 function, and cities such as Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Munich and Zurich appear much better than one may expect from their size. Both, London and Paris outperform New York as gatekeepers from a global perspective. Amsterdam and Zurich (and to a lesser degree Luxembourg) host many financial headquarters, while Edinburgh is the relay for investments in design, agro-food or oil all over Europe. Munich also plays a multi-activity role for scientific and technical activities as well as for manufacturing.

Concerning ‘representative cities’ New York and other US cities play a more important role than European cities. Here, London and Paris are at the same level. London offers an ideal stepping stone for European banks to overseas, while Paris seems to diversify a bit more.

In terms of ‘platforms’ that play a role between other continents, London and Paris again dominate the game before Bermuda and Mexico City. Amsterdam, Zurich and Munich are following on the European scale. These European platforms serve essentially for US companies to diffuse in Middle East, Asia or Africa.

The maps also highlight the relative weakness of the Eastern European cities, including the capitals, which continue to be satellite cities within the global networks.

Concepts and methods

The maps are based on measurements for the sample of the 3000 networks of multinational firms in the cities (FUAs) they are located in and the number of ownership relations following the three types identified:

  • Continental gatekeeper cities receive the investment and spread it in a second step to the European continent;
  • Representative cities offer to multinational firms the means to reach places outside Europe;
  • Platform cities play the role of intermediaries between other continents, in general for financial or organisational function.

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