Economic performance of the European regions

Cahiers, no. 135

31 décembre 2002Contact

The economic competitiveness of a region depends on two highly correlated factors: the performance levels of existing companies, and the features of the regions in which these companies are located. Public policies –at local, regional, national and supranational levels- help to shape the regional economic environment and, consequently, over the long term, to determine considerably the competitiveness of regional economies.
The overall aim of the Gemaca II project -Group for European metropolitan areas comparative analysis, second projetc- was twofold: on the one hand, to better understand the structure and dynamics of the economic development of a small number of major city regions; and, on the other hand, to act as the precursor of a future economic observatory, whose role would be to produce comparable information on all major metropolitan areas in Europe. The study set itself three specific goals:

  • To define the boundaries of the economic areas of all the city regions of North Western Europe with a population of over one million inhabitants.
  • To produce comparable information and data on socioeconomic trends in these metropolitan areas over the 1990s.
  • To identify the high growth economic sectors in four Functional Urban Regions (FUR): Dublin, London, Paris and the RheinRuhr, and the conditions that favour their development.

The geographical boundaries of all the FURs with a population of over one million inhabitants in North Western Europe were defined on the basis of common criteria: Antwerp, Birmingham, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lille Liverpool, London, Manchester, Paris, the Randstad, RheinMain (Frankfurt) and RheinRuhr (Dusseldorf, Cologne). A comparative analysis was conducted of high growth sectors and enterprise clusters in the FURs of Dublin, London, Paris and RheinRuhr. It focused on ICT technologies, biotechnologies, the creative industries and the financial services industry. An in-depth analysis was conducted on the specific sectors of enterprise clusters like research and development in Paris, logistics, environmental industries in the RheinRuhr... Eventually, an analysis was also conducted on the governance in the regions of Dublin, London, Paris and RheinRuhr.
This 135th issue of the Les Cahiers de l’IAURIF reports on the work done by the GEMACA II group and the preliminary conclusions of our group of partners.


The Paris FUR economy is undergoing a process of decongestion, deindustrialisation and fast development of service industries.
© IAU îdF
London's distinctive strenghts, lie in a combination of: sheer scale, range of specialist services, large and flexible labour market, strong international connections, access to commercial, vibrancy of London's business.
© Cordeau (Erwan), IAU îdF
65% of the population of the Randstad live in the urban areas concentrated around the municipalities of Amsterdam (720,000 inhabitants), Rotterdam (590,000), the Hague (440,000) and Utrecht (230,000).
© Lecroart (Paul), IAU îdF
The leading 5 economic regions in Europe by discipline in 1998
Source : INPI and OEB data, OST and IAU îdF statistical analyses 2001
Rail links between the metropolitan regions in 2000
© IAU îdF