There are numerous schematic representations of the economic structure of Europe. They are called spatial models because they contain abstract statements about real distribution as well as statements about politically desired, expected or assumed spatial changes. Room models are to be interpreted differently and can be varied in many ways.
THE “BLUE BANANA”
The model is based on a thesis outlined by the French geographer Brunet (1989). His graphic showed what was then Western Europe as defined on countryaah. Brunet took the view that a loss of importance for Paris as a result of the advancing Europeanization and the location of the French capital outside the backbone of Europe would be expected if the policy of decentralization of France at the time was continued at the expense of the capital.
Brunet’s graphic attracted a lot of attention in Europe under the catchphrase “ blue banana ” coined by a French journalist (chosen by analogy with the economic term blue chips). The blue banana stretches from Birmingham via London, Brussels, the Randstad, the Ruhr area, the Rhine axis, Basel and Zurich to Milan, Turin and Florence and is then continued differently in the graphics – in this map image to Rome. The fact that the Blue Banana is not a region that develops homogeneously is shown by the shift in focus, for example from the Bonn / Düsseldorf area to the Rhine-Main region, which is also due to the location decision of the European Central Bank for Frankfurt / M. are due.
PERIPHERIES AND FRAGMENTATION
The peripheries form the opposite of the core area. The southern periphery encompasses the economically in part under-developed areas – measured by EU standards – from Portugal via Sardinia, the Mezzogiorno and Greece to the European part of Turkey.
On the northern periphery in Scandinavia, features such as sparsely populated areas and unfavorable natural spatial conditions are particularly evident. However, this does not necessarily mean a lack of economic development or below-average living conditions.
The Atlantic periphery is significantly more heterogeneous than the southern or especially the northern periphery. Although the coastal areas between northern Spain and northern Scotland are relatively far from the economic core, they are often densely populated, intensively used and modern, diverse economic structures.
In general, it should be noted that structurally weak areas are also located in the core areas. This points to the fragmentation of Europe, i.e. to the fact that very contrasting spatial categories, such as classic old industrial areas and new investment locations, particularly poor or rich regions, are often close together. There is a similar fragmentation within the spatially connected periphery. For example, there are intensive agricultural crops near Almería on the south coast of Spain or the expanding, modern Dublin in the Atlantic periphery.
EXTENSIONS AND DEVELOPMENT AXES
The economic core area of the blue banana has been expanded by various elements over the past few decades. The yellow banana stretches from Paris via Brussels / Amsterdam to Hamburg and, broadly outlined, to Berlin. A dashed line symbolizes the economic heart of Europe.
The belt of high-tech regions – outside of those in the core area – is intended to indicate the importance of cities such as Toulouse, Glasgow or Copenhagen / Malmö. The term Sunbelt was created based on California’s Silicon Valley. At least in part, these regions are well equipped with soft location factors, but decisive factors are the educational and research institutions, the labor supply, the infrastructure and, last but not least, government contracts.
After 1990, Brunet’s spatial model was also supplemented by content and graphic extensions for Eastern Europe, where a fundamental political-economic realignment took place (transformation). The arrows for the hoped-for west-east connections should be mentioned here in particular. Development axes here mean the predominant direction, but not necessarily bundled infrastructures or coherent economic areas. The development axes have developed differently since then. While the three Baltic states have become members of the EU (high degree of integration), this is only partially true in Southeastern Europe. The Berlin – Moscow axis is influenced by political disputes (such as the Ukraine crisis in 2014, economic sanctions).
SPATIAL STRUCTURES IN EUROPE
The spatial structures in Europe are particularly shaped by the following factors and types of space :
- the predominantly near-natural landscapes in the north and in the extreme east with only individual urban centers,
- the densely populated agglomerations of Western and Central Europe,
- the patchwork-like pattern in the Mediterranean area with agglomerations such as the Po Valley, metropolises such as Barcelona or Istanbul, densely populated, intensively used coasts and less intensively used areas, especially in their hinterland,
- the dominant economic position of the EU and its central area between London / Paris and Northern Italy,
- the globally important centers of London and Paris,
- the spatial disparities, on the one hand, within Europe and, on the other hand, in the large states themselves (e.g. Italy).
The twin signatures for industry / service allow a hierarchically structured network of centers to emerge, in which the essential decisions in politics and business are made. They are connected to one another by a modern, high-performance infrastructure.