The aim of the paper is to analyse the recently very fashionable ‘city-region’ (metropolitan area) issue. Two very different sources of information will be taken into account for the same group of cities. One of these is a recent URBACT project, which focuses on exploring administrative set-ups and territorial policies within eight European metropolitan areas (Birmingham, Budapest, Cologne, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Lille, Malmö, Milan). The other is a very fresh ESPON analysis on urban functions for all EU metropolitan areas, which differentiates between morphological and functional urban areas. The combination of these two empirical sources allows the comparison between administratively-politically dominated ‘actions’ and geographic-economic ‘realities’ for the eight case study urban areas.
On this empirical basis it is interesting to explore the large differences between EU countries (and regions) towards city-region cooperation. As it will be demonstrated, there are very different metropolitan-wide policies observable in relation of planning, economic and regulatory functions.
Within the general topic of city-region cooperation the paper aims to have a special outlook on public transport solutions on metropolitan level. Transport is obviously an important element from the point of view of city-region relationships. The travel-to-work area is considered to be one of the most important determinants of the Functional Urban Area around the core city and is therefore one of the potential delimiting factor for the city-region area.
The structure of the paper is as follows. First the general challenges towards city-regions are discussed, then the empirical results of the METROGOV project are summarized, followed by the analysis of different functions to enhance cooperation on the different city-region levels, with special emphasis on the role of transport in the city-region agenda.