IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Beyond the blue banana? Structural change in Europe´s geo-economy

Listed author(s):
  • Hospers, Gert-Jan


Registered author(s):

    For centuries, the so-called 'Blue Banana' has shown the greatest development potential in Europe's geo-economy. This metropolitan area, extending from the north-west of London through Germany to Milan, traditionally has been a breeding place for entrepreneurship and innovation in Europe. Recently, however, commentators have identified the 'Sunbelt' from Milan to Valencia and - anticipating the coming enlargement of the European Union - the 'Yellow Banana' from Paris to Warsaw as the growth poles of the future. Ultimately, it is claimed, these emerging centres of gravity may even take over the dominant position of the Blue Banana in the European economy. In this paper we explore the question how likely it is that the contemporary structure of Europe's economic-geographical system is really changing in the next decades. After a short discussion of the 'stylized facts' of unbalanced growth in Europe we develop a framework in which insights from structural change theory and economic geography are combined. In particular, we link the literature on sectoral changes from industry to services in time with spatial concepts such as urbanization economies, institutional inertia and geographical path dependency. With the help of this framework it is argued that over time the techno-economic and institutional structure of specialized regions may become locked-in into rigid trajectories. Simultaneously, we suggest that regions with sectoral diversity provide the flexibility which is needed to absorb new techno-economic developments and to develop 'new combinations'. This framework of structural change in time and space is applied to the European context. We find that it is particularly the Blue Banana that may face a favourable future. The fact is that thanks to its diversified structure this area rather than the Sunbelt and the Yellow Banana can build on strong urbanization economies. Therefore, we expect that the Blue Banana despite its industrial tradition continues to be the major economic growth axis in the European service economy. In this line of reasoning, also European structural policy may take on a different aspect: rather than aiming for regional balance the policy objective might be striving for an optimal economic, institutional and infrastructural connection of less developed regions to the Blue Banana. In this way, spread effects from cities in the Blue Banana to connected areas are facilitated, which ultimately may contribute to a less unbalanced growth of Europe's geo-economy.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa02p210.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Aug 2002
    Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa02p210
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria

    Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Ron A. Boschma & Jan G. Lambooy, 1999. "Evolutionary economics and economic geography," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 411-429.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

    1. Modrý banán in Wikipedia Czech ne '')

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa02p210. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.