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The Blue Banana (also known as the European Megalopolis or the Liverpool–Milan Axis) is a discontinuous corridor of urbanization spreading over Western and Central Europe, with a population of around 111 million. The conceptualisation of the area as a "Blue Banana" was developed in 1989 by RECLUS, a group of French geographers managed by Roger Brunet.
It stretches approximately from North West England through the English Midlands across Greater London to the European Metropolis of Lille, the Benelux states and along the German Rhineland, Southern Germany, Alsace-Moselle in France in the west and Switzerland (Basel and Zürich) to Northern Italy (Milan and Turin) in the south.
The French geographer Roger Brunet, who observed a division between "active" and "passive" spaces, developed the concept of a West European "backbone" in 1989. He made reference to an urban corridor of industry and services stretching from northern England to northern Italy. The name "Blue Banana" was dually coined by Jacques Chérèque, and an artist adding a graphic to an article by Josette Alia in Le Nouvel Observateur. The color blue referred to either the flag of the European Community, or the blue collars of factory workers in the region.
Brunet saw the "European Backbone" as the development of historical precedents, e.g. trade routes, or as the consequence of an accumulation of industrial capital. In his analysis Brunet excluded the Paris urban area and other French conurbations because of French economic insularity. His aim was a greater economic integration in Europe, but he felt that France had lost this connection by the 17th century as a result of its persecution of Huguenots and centralisation in Paris. Later versions do, however, include Paris.
In 1991, in the context of a study on behalf of the European Commission in support of its Regional Policy, researchers criticized the idea of the Blue Banana as a desirable formation, but not an empirical reality, identifying it as the result of regional competition in Europe. Furthermore, their diagram of the Blue Banana had more of a curve, still including Northern Italy, but ending at Barcelona. It also included Paris, and had the Anglo-Scottish border as its northern stem. A study of the history of the Blue Banana as a concept refers to the Commission's study as a mistaken rejection of the Blue Banana from Brunet's original conception. From the research on the Commission's behalf, the Blue Banana represented a developed core at the expense of the periphery, whereas Brunet empirically viewed the Blue Banana as a region of development at Paris's periphery, beyond the French borders. There are also considerations for an economically strong European pentagon with its borders Paris, London, Hamburg, Munich and Milan, with development axes towards the east (Berlin, Prague, Trieste).
In the Italian media, the opinion was put forward that, according to EU data from 2013, the shape of the blue banana should be changed because Italian territory had lost its connection due to increasing de-industrialization. Only Lombardy could "keep up". In contrast, there are new economic development lines in Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Slovenia through the connecting points of the maritime Silk Road. In particular, the port of Trieste, next to Gioia Tauro, the only deep-water port in the central Mediterranean for container ships of the seventh generation, is therefore particularly the target of investments. Transport via Trieste instead of northern ports such as Rotterdam and Hamburg shortens the delivery time from Shanghai by ten days and from Hong Kong by nine days, which significantly reduces transport costs and CO2 emissions.
- Belt and Road Initiative
- Demographics of Europe
- Four Motors for Europe
- Golden Banana
- List of metropolitan areas in the European Union by GDP
- Northeast megalopolis – a similar region in the United States
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- New Silk Road: Everything that belongs to the mega project (German)