Europe as a Global Macro-Region
Edited by Kathy Pain and Gilles Van Hamme
Chapter 8: Europe in global maritime flows: gateways, forelands and subnetworks
Whilst processes of globalization raise new challenges for research to quantify and map the geographies of spaces of invisible financial and trade flows, as already discussed in previous chapters, increasing virtual connectivity between places has in fact been accompanied by an intensification of physical movement, of people and goods, endorsing the ongoing importance of location and distance (Hall and Hesse, 2012). This point is illustrated by the fact that in the new millennium, 90 per cent of both global trade and Europe's external trade volumes are transported by sea. Ports and maritime transport are thus key elements of globalization processes (Shaw and Sidaway, 2010), making it crucial for our research to examine the position of Europe's port gateways in global shipping flows. As argued by Lewis and Wigen (1999), depictions of the metageography of the world have traditionally been dependent on a continental, land-based analytical perspective. Hence important questions have for too long been overlooked in spatial analysis. How do the specific patterns of maritime flows compare with those of other important global flows such as finance or air transport? How do they influence wider territorial dynamics within and outside Europe? The main purpose of this chapter is thus to verify how patterns of inter-port links can contribute to our understanding of the potential emergence of a European macro-region, and to our understanding of the position of Europe as a whole in global sea traffic.
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