Cities’ participation in global and European networks, 2010


Observations for policy

London and Paris are the most important cities in global and European networks and are thus the primary gateways between European regions and the world. A concentration of important cities can especially be seen in the so-called ‘Pentagon’ area (London-Hamburg-Munich-Milan-Paris). Stockholm and Madrid are the only cities of 1st and 2nd rank respectively that are not located within the ‘Pentagon’. Outside this area, mainly the Northern European capital cities like Dublin, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki, and Southern European capital cities like Madrid, Rome, and Athens play a comparatively important role in research and economic networks. Furthermore, Barcelona and Malmö stand out as two important exceptions. They are neither located in the ‘Pentagon’ nor capital cities, but still play an important role as 3rd rank cities in global and European networks.

It is remarkable that none of the 24 highest ranked cities (1st-3rd rank) is located in Eastern and Southeast Europe. A number of smaller countries such as Malta, Cyprus, Iceland and Lithuania do not include any city included in this ranking. This also concerns Europe’s outermost regions. Especially for these countries and regions it is crucial to establish and maintain links to other cities of higher ranks in order to access the global and European networks.

Policy context

The Territorial Agenda 2020 mentions that metropolitan areas, urban regions, and international and global gateways can be assets for the development of the whole European territory. Networks play a key role to connect the gateways and main urban areas with other regions in order to allow the latter to benefit from this dynamism. The Territorial Agenda 2020 therefore encourages local stakeholders to develop innovative networks and furthermore underlines that city networks can contribute to smart development of cities and their surrounding regions and that involved cities should thus look beyond their administrative borders and focus on functional regions.

The Europe 2020 Strategy describes the exploitation of EU-scale networks as one aspect of a concept aiming for sustainable growth. An approach covering this but also many other aspects such as exploiting Europe’s leadership in developing new processes and technologies or using ICTs to accelerate the roll out of smart grids, will help the EU to prosper in the future and underpin economic, social and territorial cohesion.

Map interpretation

The map shows a hierarchical pattern. The global cities Paris and London have the highest ranks, ahead from six other European cities well integrated in global networks of leading activities: Madrid, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Zurich, Munich, and Brussels. 16 other cities still have noticeable international participation. Among these cities are mainly capital cities (Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Dublin, Rome, and Athens) but also second tier cities such as Barcelona, Frankfurt, Manchester, Edinburgh or Milan, for example. The majority of European cities, 200 out of 271, have a limited participation in research networks and range low in firm ownership hierarchies.

Concepts and methods

The symbols in the map illustrate two aspects. The colour of the circles illustrates the class to which the city belongs with regards to its global position in in economic and research networks. The size of the circle is proportional to the population of each city.

The ranking of European cities is based on a principal component analysis (PCA) of seven indices of centrality in several networks both within European research networks (CORDIS) and in global firm ownership hierarchies (ORBIS).

From CORDIS, two indices of centrality in the European system of cities were considered. The first refers to the total degree of each city, i.e. the total number of links between the city and other cities sharing the same research networks. The second refers to the city’s ‘betweenness centrality’ in all NBIC research networks, i.e. the number of shortest paths between all cities that run through the individual city considered.

From ORBIS, the total degree of cities in the networks of multinational firms (according to the location of headquarters) was considered for five economic sectors: Finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE); High tech including converging technologies (NBIC); Advanced business services; Cultural industries; Transportation and logistics.