To what extent does remoteness from the geographical core explain the distribution of problem regions in the EU

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In the EU problem regions can be classified in numerous ways depending on what the problems are, but collectively they are grouped into Objective 1 areas. This can simply be defined as where development is lagging behind. Objective 1 areas gain assistance from the EU, and in order to qualify for this assistance the criteria that has to be met by the region is that the GDP is less than 75% of the EU average. It is quite clear that there is a trend between remoteness from the core and objective 1 regions in the EU.

The geographical core of the EU can be defined as Belgium, West Germany, Northern France, Southern England, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Generally speaking the regions furthest from this area have Objective 1 status. This can be clearly seen as much of Finland, Northern Sweden, Greece, Southern Italy, Portugal and much of Spain are Objective 1 areas. This therefore is quite clear indication that the remoteness from the core has an effect on the regions of the EU.

One question which needs to be answered is the concept of remoteness. In the context of this question I feel that remote does not necessarily relate to places ‘in the middle of no where’, but an area which has poor access to the core, or is too far from the core. The scale of how remote a place is has to be considered. For example people in London may consider parts of Surrey such as Cobham to be remote, but when this is put into context and on a European scale it is not as remote to the European core as parts of Portugal or Finland.

There is a clear cut off between Sweden and Finland which are considered as periphery and Denmark and Germany which are considered semi periphery. This I believe is due the Baltic sea creating a physical obstacle which makes access to the core far harder than from Denmark. Greece suffers from a similar position in the fact that it is in the EU, but not of its neighbour countries are. This means that its access to the core is also not easy as European sprawl has to cross non EU countries which may adopt different policies creating a barrier for development.

The importance of the core is that it acts as a CBD of Europe, which means that land value is likely to be higher and therefore bigger businesses are likely to be based in the core than in the periphery regions. This in turn means that more money is available to the core, so therefore the GDP is very likely to be higher in the core than other regions. Evidence to suggest the above point includes the average GDP in the core being 114. 6 (where average of EU is 100), the semi periphery area is 101. and the periphery is 78. 5. This therefore clearly shows that the areas which are considered as periphery are highly likely to be Objective 1 areas where as areas nearer are not likely to be. This trend can even be seen in the UK from the core to the periphery regions. For example the south of the UK (predominantly London) is in the European core. This shows by the south of England being more expensive to live in than the rest of the UK. The further north in the UK the regions are, the poorer they get.

Manchester and Liverpool are in the semi-periphery region and if you compare the GDP of Greater Manchester (90. 2) to that of Greater London (152. 9) it is clear that the trend extends throughout Europe, and is not a cut difference between periphery and core. In Scotland in the Highlands, the GDP is 76. 9, which barely keeps it above the level required for Objective 1 status. There are however some exceptions to this, such as Eastern Germany which is a Objective 1. This therefore suggests that the proximity to the core is not the only factor involved in determining how well off areas are.

The reason for East Germany being designated an Objective 1 area is probably due to the fact that East Germany was only reunited with the rest of Germany in 1989, and therefore it has only recently been able to develop with the rest of Europe, as before the Berlin wall fell East Germany was effectively cut off from Europe and as a result did not advance as the rest of Europe did. This will have a cumulative growth effect on the core area as more money will be inputted into the area, therefore as the area gets richer, richer people move into the area which in turn means that the GDP of the area is likely to increase.

At the same time poorer people move out because they cannot afford the cost of living. This causes the effect where the core area gets richer than the periphery area and this then causes a backwash effect damaging the periphery areas even more. Due to this reason there is a trend of professionals moving into the core which causes the area have a greater chance of economic growth as there is a higher social status within the area, which in turn brings greater money to the area. As well as people moving to the area, natural resources move into the core as well.

This causes a detrimental effect in the periphery as this is often where the resources come from. This means that the core gains and the periphery loses out which causes the gap between the two to grow at a greater rate. The reason for this move from the periphery to the core is due to the fact that a lot of businesses operate in the core and therefore there is much industry in the core which requires natural resources. Once all of the natural resources in the core were used up and the land used for buildings, the natural resources had to be brought in from other areas.

This area is the periphery as this has a greater land space due to lower population density. This can be seen as the average population density in the core is 254 people/km2 where as the average population density in the periphery is 72 people/km2. This also shows the value of land in the core, as more people live in a km2. this is because the land is more sort after as it is more economically profitable for companies to get in closer to the core. This is probably due to the fact that they are near other companies and therefore money spent on transport between companies (for orders) and sales is minimised.

This is a common trend, the further from the core you go in the EU, the lower the price of land. This is partly due to the GDP of a region. From this evidence I think that it is fair to conclude that the remoteness from the geographical core can explain the problem regions in the EU. The example of East Germany which remained remote until 1989 although it is in close proximity to the core shows that access to, and sprawl from the core is important to the surrounding areas. This also shows that the change from a problem area to an acceptable area (semi periphery) is not a quick process which happens in a few years.

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