|Economy today |
The structural pattern of industrial location, alongside a fundamental division between centre and periphery in the entire region, is marked by major industrial axes running with some breaks from Central England via London, the Northern France-Belgium-Netherlands industrial region, the Rhineland-Westphalia industrial region, the Rhine-Main region and the Middle-Neckar region as far as the Basel region. Together with these important areas of industrial concentration, the large urban agglomerations (e.g. Paris, Munich) come to the fore.
The size and character of the economic structure and its changes can be seen first of all in the production and employment data for the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors (compare 86.1). Due to sectoral structural changes (tertiarization) and rationalization, all the leading industrialized countries have reduced the share of employment in the secondary sector since 1965. This also applies to the countries of Eastern Europe, where in some cases the number of people employed in manufacturing industry has shrunk considerably since the beginning of the process of political and economic transformation. Their use of comparatively favourable locational factors, their development of new markets outside the former CMEA, their establishment of new production locations such as e.g. automobile construction and their integration into the common economic area of the EU have had some success, but with very great regional differences.
Of the coal and ore mining locations shown on the map, only a few are competitive by international standards, despite the fact that some of these (e.g. coal, iron ore) formerly provided the basis for the emergence of entire industrial regions, and in some cases extraction continues even today. These represent a stage in decline. On account of its high demand, the production of oil and natural gas from the North Sea stands in contrast to coal extraction. As well as its use as an energy source, it is also used as an important raw material for the chemical industry.
Medium and High-Technology Industries
"Medium technology" industries (e.g. the automobile industry, chemicals, electrical and mechanical engineering) and "high technology" industries (e.g. aerospace, electronics and biotechnology) are referred to together as "growth industries".
Despite individual locational differences that apply to the R&D-intensive growth industries, there is still a preference for central regions with agglomeration advantages. But in view of the global orientation of the majority of such companies, the products of these industries are also partly manufactured abroad.
As high-tech industries, aerospace, electronics, photonics and biotechnology have their principal sites in conurbations such as Munich and in diversified industrial locations possessing a highly qualified corps of entrepreneurs and skilled workers with a long tradition (e.g. Baden-Württemberg, South-East Region in England). Sites belonging to multinational corporations dominate whole regions (e.g. Eindhoven). As well as close links to universities and research institutes (specialist staff, research and development), the availability of services in the agglomerations is a further locational advantage. Clusters and industrial parks with interlinked, highly-specialized subsectors have become a widely-used organisational model (compare 111.3) which also plays a role in regional economic promotion. Aircraft construction represents a special case. The sites of the Airbus group are distributed among the participating countries in accordance with its character as a European cooperation project. Locations such as St. Nazaire or Nantes in France show that regional planning arguments also played a role in the choice of sites.
Despite its highly efficient manufacturing technology, automobile production has a considerable direct and even more important indirect significance for employment in some countries. Germany and France have increased production, and the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have become important assembly locations for foreign corporations, while on the other hand the importance of the British automobile industry has declined sharply.
A differentiated network of specialized service locations has emerged within Europe. London, Frankfurt, Brussels and Rotterdam are examples of important service locations in the agglomerations. While the media and administration are predominant in Brussels, Frankfurt and London are financial centres. As a port location, Rotterdam specializes in logistics. In some peripheral regions, tourism is predominant as a leading sector, e.g. on the French Atlantic coast and in the Alps.
M. Schrader; Ü: J. Attfield
Keywords: British Isles Central Europe economic zone economy England Great Britain Ireland land cover land use Northern Ireland pipeline Scotland Unitred Kingdom Wales Western Europe
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