Rozenblat & al.

Prof. Celine Rozenblat

University of Lausanne

Prof. Denise Pumain

University of Paris 1

Marie-Noelle Comin

University Paris 1

Patricia Cicille

CNRS, UMR ESPACE – Aix-Marseille

Ludovic Halbert


Didier Peters

ULB-IGEAT – Bruxelles

Alain L’Hostis

IFSTTAR, Laboratoire Ville Mobilité Transport (ENPC –Paris)

César Ducruet

CNRS, UMR Géographie-Cités, Université Paris I


European Cities- System: Between Hierarchies and Specialization


The globalization processes developing during the second half of the XXth century were mainly supported by city regions that in turn encountered visible economic and social transformations since the 1980’s summed up in a process called metropolization. Concomitantly, Europe built an economic and social space, strengthening interdependencies between countries, and integrating all together national urban systems. The European cities’ developments are becoming more and more interdependent. Their specialization in a variety of urban functions is the result of their integration and their active role into multi-scalar networks of capital, enterprises, people, innovations and culture.

In order to evaluate the role and position of each city in this European urban system, a multi-criteria analysis was conducted in 2011 on the European system of cities, following previous studies in 1989 (Brunet) and 2003 (Rozenblat, Cicille: presented in IGU Urban commission of Glasgow, 2004). To detect the metropolization dynamics, we collected for the 357 European Functional Urban Areas with more than 200,000 inhab., on a comparative way, more then 70 mixed urban indicators of stocks and flows, including criteria concerning 5 thematic:
- Transport and communication,
- Research and Innovation,
- Economic functions,
- Culture and tourism,
- Political power.
A multivariate analysis on 25 main criteria highlights the strong hierarchical differentiation as well as the diversity of specializations among European cities. If the diversity of urban activities is often linked with their size, there are specialities that follow other spatial organizations, selecting cities that appear as exceptions. The interpretation of these phenomena is made in terms of innovation waves and their diffusion, as well as network integration processes. This combines the two intrinsic dimensions of cities being both places of space and places of flows.



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